The second of our prospect profiles for the 2017 NHL Draft focuses on Nico Hischier, a Swiss center who played for Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this past season. International Scouting Services had Hischier ranked 21st early in the season, but he quickly moved up the rankings. He is now considered the No. 2 prospect in the draft behind Nolan Patrick and has been pushing for the first overall spot after putting up impressive numbers with Halifax. He may not be available if the Stars hold onto that third overall pick in the draft, but he's a player to watch.
Height/Weight: 6-1/176 pounds
Born: January 4, 1999
Birthplace: Naters, Switzerland
2016-17 Team: Halifax (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League)
NHL Central Scouting: 2nd among North American skaters
International Scouting Services: 2nd among all skaters
TSN: 2nd among all players
The Hockey News: 2nd among all players
Red Line Report: 2nd among all players
ESPN: 1st among all skaters
Video: The top ranked prospect recaps his time in Buffalo
Hischier led all Quebec Major Junior Hockey League rookies in scoring with 86 points (38 goals, 48 assists) in 57 games with Halifax. He tallied seven points (three goals, four assists) in six playoff games. Hischier was named the QMJHL's Rookie of the Year and awarded the Mike Bossy Trophy as the league's best pro prospect. He recorded seven points (four goals, three assists) in five games for Switzerland at the 2017 World Junior Championship, leading all 2017 draft-eligible players in scoring. Hischier picked up one goal and one assist in three games for Switzerland at the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup. Projected as a possible late first-round pick in early draft rankings, Hischier's stock shot up over the course of the season.
"I've seen guys go from the 20s to the top 10, but I don't really recall the last time we had a guy go from 20s to contending for No. 1," Dennis MacInnis of International Scouting Services told The New York Times. "We still think that [Nolan] Patrick is the No. 1 guy out there, but he has certainly closed the gap."
Hischier played in Switzerland in 2015-16, registering 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists) in 18 games with the Bern junior team. He picked up one goal in 15 games with Bern in Switzerland's top league. At 16-years-old, he was the second youngest player at the 2016 World Junior Championship, registering two assists in six games for Switzerland. Halifax (QMJHL) drafted Hischier in the first round (sixth overall) of the 2016 CHL Import Draft.
"Hischier is definitely worth the price of admission. He has a high skill level, but what's most impressive is the way he competes, his drive and work ethic. He is a player who is first on the forecheck forcing a turnover and when the play transitions, he's the first player back. He's in that category as a special player." - Dan Marr, Director NHL Central Scouting (NHL.com)
"Highly skilled and imaginative center. Traditional playmaker who creates loads of chances for his linemates. Outstanding stickhandler. Sees plays developing early and makes great set-ups. Highly instinctive with great hockey sense in all three zones." - Red Line Report 2017 NHL Draft Guide (redlinereport.com)
"He manages the game like an adult, like a man. Great vision, great poise, but he's always in the right place defensively too, which puts him ahead of a lot of young guys - they rarely have both sides of the ice figured out, especially at that age." - Ottawa Senators coach Guy Boucher, who coached Hischier in Switzerland. (New York Times)
This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.