Over the past few months, fans and scouts alike have debated on who would be the first overall pick in the National Hockey League draft. Today, they all got their answer when the New Jersey Devils selected Swiss center, Nico Hischier. This is a historical pick for two reasons: the first being that Hischier is the first Swiss-born player to ever be selected first overall (in comparison, forty-three Canadian-born players have been selected number one in draft history) and the second reason being that this is the first time that the New Jersey Devils have had the first overall pick in franchise history.

Origins

Hischier is a native of Naters, Switzerland.

The eighteen-year-old center made the move from Swiss club, SC Bern of the National League to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League club, the Halifax Mooseheads in 2016. His goal in making a move to Canada was to establish more of a household name for himself as well as furthering his hockey career to being drafted and playing in the National Hockey League.

Halifax Mooseheads

Hischier was selected with the sixth overall pick in the 2016 CHL import draft by Halifax. Entering the 2016-2017 QMJHL season, not many people had high hopes for the Mooseheads. Hischier however, proved to be a difference maker on the ice finishing second on the Mooseheads in total points to Maxime Fortier and tenth overall in total points in all the QMJHL with 86 points consisting of 38 goals and 48 assists. Nico Hischier also put up seven points in six games in the playoffs for the Mooseheads which, was an accomplishment itself considering Halifax were not even picked to make the playoffs at the start of the season.

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At 6’2” and 179 pounds, Hischier did not have the same size as the projected number one pick for the majority of the season in Nolan Patrick. However, the Devils seemed to look past the size of Patrick and focused on the playmaking ability, speed, and health of Nico Hischier in comparison to Nolan Patrick who missed more than half of the previous season in junior hockey due to two pelvis injuries.

Many people would wonder for many years following this draft if Nolan Patrick had not labored through the 2016-2017 season for the Brandon Wheat Kings if he would have been looked at as the consensus first overall draft pick and not falling to the Philadelphia Flyers as he did in Friday’s NHL draft.

Regardless, the Devils continue to rebuild through the 2017 draft. They have now selected a center in the first round, for now, the fourth straight draft in a row (John Quenneville in 2014, Pavel Zacha in 2015, and Mikey McLeod in 2016). The New Jersey Devils hope to reach the heights they once achieved between the mid-1990’s through the early 2010’s when they reached five Stanley Cup Finals, winning three of them.