For the first time in NHL history, a player from the country of Switzerland was taken with the number one pick as the New Jersey Devils selected Nico Hischier first overall at the 2017 NHL Draft June 23-24 at United Center in Chicago, IL.
The Devils’ pick was one of 89 Europeans selected — up from 70 the year before — as more and more skaters from Switzerland, Denmark, Germany and Belarus are joining Sweden, Finland, Russia and the Czech Republic in the NHL.
After a year of action in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Halifax Mooseheads in which he registered 38 goals and 48 assists, Devils’ General Manager Ray Shero wasted no time selecting Hischier over Canadian Nolan Patrick, considered the top North American player in the draft.
“I was not leaving Chicago without drafting Nico Hischier,” Shero, who did not let either player know which way the Devils were leaning with their pick, said with a laugh. “The way the draft has gone, the style of players we’ve been able to draft — fast, offensive, high hockey instincts — we’ve been able to build depth in the organization because of the picks we’ve acquired.”
“Nico is part of the building block here,” Devils’ coach John Hynes said. “From our perspective, we’re tremendously excited about the type of people and the style of player we’re bringing in the organization. Coming into next season, with our returning players, we’re ready to take the next step.”
With the second pick in the 2017 NHL Draft the Flyers wasted no time either. Philadelphia scooped up Patrick, one of 12 Canadians taken in the first round and 81 in all — by far the most from any country (37%).
Patrick, a second generation NHL talent after father, Steve, and uncle, James, paved the way in the 1980’s, recorded 20 goals and 26 assists in an injury-riddled season with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League, but his size and pedigree made up for it.
A total of 49 players were drafted from the United States, including six in the first round with forward Casey Mittelstadt (Eden Prairie, Minn.) being the first American player off the board after the Buffalo Sabres drafted him 8th overall. The Tampa Bay Lightning selected defenseman Callan Foote (Englewood, Colo.) with the 14th pick in the draft before forward Josh Norris (Oxford, Mich.) and Kailer Yamamoto (Spokane, Wash.) were drafted 19th and 22nd overall by the San Jose Sharks and Edmonton Oilers, respectively. Ryan Poehling and Jake Oettinger, each hailing from Lakeville, Minnesota, were taken back-to-back with the 25th and 26th picks by the Montreal Canadiens and Dallas Stars, respectively.
In the end, the Devils had no reservations going with Hischier who is excited to represent his country in North America and prove New Jersey made the right choice at number one.
The 18-year old from Naters, Switzerland said his year with Halifax in the QMJHL helped him make the adjustment to the North American game.
“It helped me for sure, the culture and knowing what to expect,” Hischier said. “Junior hockey to pro hockey is a whole new level (however) so I will have to make that adjustment.”
Hischier has drawn comparisons to former Detroit Red Wings’ forward Pavel Datsyuk, a distinction he is comfortable with and models his game after.
“Pavel Datsyuk — I really like his game, his style, his two-way game — that’s exactly how I like to play too,” Hischier said.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) June 24, 2017
With the NHL broadening its exposure to include preseason and exhibition games throughout Europe, Hischier sees more and more of his countrymen making their way to North America.
“In Europe, everyone knows the National Hockey League is the best league in the world and a lot of European players have this goal and this dream to play in the NHL,” Hischier said. “At some point if you want to take your goals to the next level you have to come over.”
Hischier also had some words of advice for the next generation: “Just keeping playing. Don’t think too much and just have fun. Work hard, never lose focus, but always have fun playing hockey.”
2017 NHL Draft Results
Pick-Team-Player-Position-College/Junior/High School/Club Team
1. New Jersey Devils: Nico Hischier, C, Halifax
2. Philadelphia Flyers: Nolan Patrick, C, Brandon
3. Dallas Stars: Miro Heiskanen, D, HIFK
4. Colorado Avalanche: Cale Makar, D, Brooks
5. Vancouver Canucks: Elias Pettersson, C, Timra IK
6. Vegas Golden Knights: Cody Glass, C, Portland
7. New York Rangers (from ARI): Lias Andersson, C, HV71
8. Buffalo Sabres: Casey Mittelstadt, C, Eden Prairie
9. Detroit Red Wings: Michael Rasmussen, C, Tri-City
10. Florida Panthers: Owen Tippett, RW, Mississauga
11. Los Angeles Kings: Gabriel Vilardi, C, Windsor
12. Carolina Hurricanes: Martin Necas, C, HC Kometa Brno
13. Vegas Golden Knights (from WPG): Nick Suzuki, C, Owen Sound
14. Tampa Bay Lightning: Callan Foote, D, Kelowna
15. Vegas Golden Knights (from NYI): Erik Brannstrom, D, HV71
16. Calgary Flames: Juuso Valimaki, D, Tri-City
17. Toronto Maple Leafs: Timothy Liljegren, D, Rogle BK
18. Boston Bruins: Urho Vaakanainen, D, JYP
19. San Jose Sharks: Joshua Norris, C, USA U-18
20. St. Louis Blues: Robert Thomas, C, London
21. New York Rangers: Filip Chytil, C, Zlin
22. Edmonton Oilers: Kailer Yamamoto, RW, Spokane
23. Arizona Coyotes (from MIN): Pierre-Olivier Joseph, D, Charlottetown
24. Winnipeg Jets (from CBJ via LV): Kristian Vesalainen, RW, Frolunda HC
25. Montreal Canadiens: Ryan Poehling, C, St. Cloud State
26. Dallas Stars (from CHI): Jake Oettinger, G, Boston
27. Philadelphia Flyers (from WSH, STL): Morgan Frost, C Sault Ste. Marie
28. Ottawa Senators: Shane Bowers, C, Waterloo
29. Chicago Blackhawks (from ANA, DAL): Henri Jokiharju, D, Portland
30. Nashville Predators: Eeli Tolvanen, RW, Sioux City
31. St. Louis Blues (from PIT): Klim Kostin, C/LW, Dynamo Moscow
32. Colorado Avalanche: Conor Timmins, D, Sault Ste. Marie
33. Vancouver Canucks: Kole Lind, RW, Kelowna
34. Vegas Golden Knights: Nicolas Hague, D, Mississauga
35. Philadelphia Flyers (from ARI): Isaac Ratcliffe, LW, Guelph
36. New Jersey Devils: Jesper Boqvist, C, Brynas IF
37. Buffalo Sabres: Marcus Davidsson, C, Djurgarden IF
38. Detroit Red Wings: Gustav Lindstrom, D, Almtuna IS
39. Dallas Stars: Jacob Robertson, LW, Kingston
40. Florida Panthers: Aleksi Heponiemi, C, Swift Current
41. Los Angeles Kings: Jaret Anderson-Dolan, C, Spokane
42. Carolina Hurricanes: Eetu Luostarinen, C, Kalpa
43. Winnipeg Jets: Dylan Samberg, D, Hermantown
44. Arizona Coyotes (from PHI): Filip Westerlund, D, Frolunda
45. Columbus Blue Jackets (from TB, VGK): Alexandre Texier, C, Grenoble
46. New York Islanders: Robin Salo, D, Vaasan Sport
47. Ottawa Senators (from CGY): Alex Formenton, LW, London
48. Tampa Bay Lightning (from TOR): Alexander Volkov, RW, SKA-1946 St. Petersburg
49. San Jose Sharks (from BOS via NJ): Mario Ferraro, D, Des Moines
50. Anaheim Ducks (from SJ via TOR): Maxime Comtois, LW, Victoriaville
51. Pittsburgh Penguins (from STL): Zachary Lauzon, D, Rouyn-Noranda
52. Carolina Hurricanes (from NYR): Luke Martin, D, Michigan
53. Boston Bruins (from EDM): Jack Studnicka, C, Oshawa
54. Buffalo Sabres (from MIN): Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, G, Hpk Jr.
55. Vancouver Canucks (from CBJ): Jonah Gadjovich, LW, Owen Sound
56. Montreal Canadiens: Josh Brock, D, Moose Jaw
57. Chicago Blackhawks: Ian Mitchell, D, Spruce Grove
58. Montreal Canadiens (from WSH): Joni Ikonen, C, Frolunda Jr.
59. Toronto Maple Leafs (from OTT): Eemeli Rasanen, D, Kingston
60. Anaheim Ducks: Antoine Morand, C, Acadie Bathurst
61. Nashville Predators: Grant Mismash, LW, USA U-18
62. Vegas Golden Knights (from PIT via CAR): Jake Leschyshyn, C, Regina
63. New Jersey Devils (from COL): Fabian Zetterlund, LW, Farjestad Jr.
64. Vancouver Canucks: Michael Dipietro, G, Windsor
65. Vegas Golden Knights: Jonas Rondbjerg, RW, Vaxjo Jr.
66. Florida Panthers (from ARI): Maxwell Gildon, D, USA U-18
67. Carolina Hurricanes (from NJD): Morgan Geekie, C, Tri-City
68. Montreal Canadiens (from BUF): Scott Walford, D, Victoria
69. Arizona Coyotes (from DET via SJ): Mackenzie Entwistle, RW, Hamilton
70. Chicago Blackhawks (from DAL): Andrei Altybarmakyan, RW, Lvy-St. Petersburg
71. Detroit Red Wings (from FLA): Kasper Kotkansalo, D, Sioux Falls
72. Los Angeles Kings: Matt Villalta, G, Sault Ste. Marie
73. Carolina Hurricanes: Stelio Mattheos, RW, Brandon
74. Winnipeg Jets: Johnathan Kovacevic, D, Merrimack
75. Arizona Coyotes (from PHI): Nate Schnarr, C, Guelph
76. Tampa Bay Lightning: Alexei Lipanov, C, Dynamo Balashikha
77. New York Islanders: Benjamin Mirageas, D, Chicago
78. Edmonton Oilers (from CGY, ARI): Stuart Skinner, G, Lethbridge
79. Detroit Red Wings (from TOR): Lane Zablocki, RW, Red Deer
80. Philadelphia Flyers (from BOS): Kirill Ustimenko, G, HC Dynamo St. Petersburg
81. New Jersey Devils (from SJ): Reilly Walsh, D, Proctor Academy
82. Arizona Coyotes (from STL, EDM): Cameron Crotty, D, Brockville
83. Detroit Red Wings (from NYR): Zach Gallant, C, Peterborough
84. Edmonton Oilers: Dmitri Samorukov, D, Guelph
85. Minnesota Wild: Ivan Lodnia, RW, Erie
86. Columbus Blue Jackets: Daniil Tarasov, G, Tolpar Ufa
87. Montreal Canadiens: Cale Fleury, D, Kootenay
88. Detroit Red Wings (from CHI via CAR): Keith Petruzzelli, G, Muskegon
89. Buffalo Sabres (from WSH): Oskari Laaksonen, D, Ilves Jr.
90. Chicago Blackhawks (from OTT via CAR): Evan Barratt, C, USA U-18
91. Anaheim Ducks: Jack Badini, C, Chicago
92. Nashville Predators: David Farrance, D, USA U-18
93. Pittsburgh Penguins: Clayton Phillips, D, Fargo
94. Colorado Avalanche: Nick Henry, RW, Regina
95. Vancouver Canucks: Jack Rathbone, D, Dexter School
96. Vegas Golden Knights: Maksim Zhukov, G, Green Bay
97. Minnesota Wild (from ARI): Mason Shaw, C, Medicine Hat
98. New Jersey Devils: Nikita Popugaev, LW, Prince George
99. Buffalo Sabres: Jacob Bryson, D, Providence
100. Detroit Red Wings: Malte Setkov, D, Malmo Jr.
101. Dallas Stars: Liam Hawel, C, Guelph
102. San Jose Sharks (from FLA, NYR): Scott Reedy, C, USA U-18
103. Los Angeles Kings: Michael Anderson, D, Waterloo
104. Carolina Hurricanes: Eetu Makiniemi, G, Jokerit Jr.
105. Winnipeg Jets: Santeri Virtanen, C, TPS Jr.
106. Philadelphia Flyers: Matthew Strome, LW, Hamilton
107. Philadelphia Flyers (from TBL): Maksim Sushko, RW, Owen Sound
108. Arizona Coyotes (from NYI, PHI): Noel Hoefenmayer, D, Ottawa
109. Calgary Flames: Adam Ruzicka, C, Sarnia
110. Toronto Maple Leafs: Ian Scott, G, Prince Albert
111. Boston Bruins: Jeremy Swayman, G, Sioux Falls
112. Chicago Blackhawks (from SJ, VAN): Tim Soderlund, C, Skelleftea AIK
113. St. Louis Blues: Alexey Toropchenko, RW, HK MVD Balashikha
114. Colorado Avalanche (from NYR): Petr Kvaca, G, Motor Ceske Budejovice
115. Edmonton Oilers: Ostap Safin, RW, Sparta Jr.
116. Minnesota Wild: Bryce Misley, C, Oakville
117. Columbus Blue Jackets: Emil Bemstrom, C, Leksand Jr.
118. Los Angeles Kings (from MTL via DAL): Markus Phillips, D, Owen Sound
119. Chicago Blackhawks: Roope Laavainen, D, Jokerit Jr.
120. Washington Capitals: Tobias Geisser, D, EV Zug
121. Ottawa Senators: Drake Batherson, C, Cape Breton
122. Anaheim Ducks: Kyle Olson, RW, Tri-City
123. New York Rangers (from NSH, NJ, SJS): Brandon Crawley, D, London
124. Toronto Maple Leafs (from PIT): Vladislav Kara, LW, Irbis Kazan
125. Colorado Avalanche: Igor Shvyrev, C, Stalnye Lisy
126. Arizona Coyotes (from VAN, EDM): Michael Karow, D, Youngstown
127. Vegas Golden Knights: Lucas Elvenes, C, Rogle Jr.
128. Arizona Coyotes: Tyler Steenbergen, C, Swift Current
129. New Jersey Devils: Gilles Senn, G, HC Davos
130. St. Louis Blues (from BUF): David Noel, D, Val-d’Or
131. Detroit Red Wings: Cole Fraser, D, Peterborough
132. Dallas Stars: Jacob Peterson, C, Frolunda Jr.
133. Florida Panthers: Tyler Inamoto, D, USA U-18
134. Los Angeles Kings: Cole Hults, D, Madison
135. Vancouver Canucks (from CAR, CHI): Kristoffer Gunnarsson, D, Frolunda
136. Winnipeg Jets: Leon Gawanke, D, Cape Breton
137. Philadelphia Flyers: Noah Cates, LW, Stillwater
138. Los Angeles Kings (from TBL): Drake Rymsha, C, Sarnia
139. New York Islanders: Sebastian Aho, D, Skelleftea AIK
140. Calgary Flames: Zach Fischer, RW, Medicine Hat
141. Toronto Maple Leafs: Fedor Gordeev, D, Flint
142. Vegas Golden Knights (from BOS via CAR): Jonathan Dugan, LW, Northwood School
143. New Jersey Devils (from SJ): Marian Studenic, RW, Hamilton
144. Chicago Blackhawks (from STL): Parker Foo, LW, Brooks
145. New York Rangers: Calle Sjalin, D, Ostersund IK
146. Edmonton Oilers: Kirill Maksimov, RW, Niagara
147. Minnesota Wild: Jacob Golden, D, London
148. Columbus Blue Jackets: Kale Howarth, LW, Trail
149. Montreal Canadiens: Jarret Tyszka, D, Seattle
150. Chicago Blackhawks: Jakub Galvas, D, HC Olomouc
151. Washington Capitals: Sebastian Walfridsson, D, Modo Jr.
152. Pittsburgh Penguins (from OTT): Jan Drozg, LW, Leksand U18
153. Anaheim Ducks: Olle Eriksson Ek, G, Farjestad Jr.
154. Nashville Predators: Tomas Vomacka, G, Corpus Christi
155. Pittsburgh Penguins: Linus Olund, C, Brynas IF
156. Colorado Avalanche: Denis Smirnov, RW, Penn State
157. New York Rangers (from VAN): Dominik Lakatos, C, Bili Tygri Liberec
158. Vegas Golden Knights: Nick Campoli, C, North York
159. San Jose Sharks (from ARI): Jacob McGrew, RW, Spokane
160. New Jersey Devils: Aarne Talvitie, C, Blues Jr.
161. Vegas Golden Knights (from BUF): Jiri Patera, G, HC Ceske Budejovice Jr.
162. Detroit Red Wings: John Adams, RW, Fargo
163. Dallas Stars: Brett Davis, RW, Kootenay
164. Detroit Red Wings (from FLA): Reilly Webb, D, Hamilton
165. New York Islanders (from LAK): Arnaud Durandeau, LW, Halifax
166. Carolina Hurricanes: Brendan De Jong, D, Portland
167. Winnipeg Jets: Arvid Holm, G, Karlskrona Jr.
168. Philadelphia Flyers: Olle Lycksell, RW, Linkoping Jr.
169. Tampa Bay Lightning: Nicklaus Perbix, D, Elk River
170. Columbus Blue Jackets (from NYI via CHI): Jonathan Davidsson, RW, Djurgarden
171. Calgary Flames: D’artagnan Joly, RW, Baie-Comeau
172. Toronto Maple Leafs: Ryan Mcgregor, C, Sarnia
173. Boston Bruins: Cedric Pare, C, Saint John
174. New York Rangers (from SJS): Morgan Barron, C, St. Andrews College
175. St. Louis Blues: Trenton Bourque, D, Owen Sound
176. Nashville Predators (from NYR): Pavel Koltygin, C, Drummondville
177. Edmonton Oilers: Skyler Brind’amour, C, Selects Academy U18
178. Minnesota Wild: Andrei Svetlakov, C, CSKA
179. Columbus Blue Jackets: Carson Meyer, RW, Miami
180. Tampa Bay Lightning (from MTL): Cole Guttman, C, Dubuque
181. Vancouver Canucks (from CHI): Petrus Palmu, RW, Owen Sound
182. Washington Capitals: Benton Maass, D, Elk River
183. Ottawa Senators: Jordan Hollett, G, Regina
184. Florida Panthers (from ANA): Sebastian Repo, RW, Tappara
185. San Jose Sharks (from NSH, NJD): Alexander Chmelevski, C, Ottawa
186. Pittsburgh Penguins: Antti Palojarvi, D, Lukko Jr.
187. Colorado Avalanche: Nick Leivermann, D, Eden Prairie
188. Vancouver Canucks: Matt Brassard, D, Oshawa
189. Vegas Golden Knights: Ben Jones, C, Niagara
190. Arizona Coyotes: Erik Walli Walterholm, RW, Djurgarden U18
191. New Jersey Devils: Jocktan Chainey, D, Halifax
192. Buffalo Sabres: Linus Weissbach, LW, Tri-City
193. Detroit Red Wings: Brady Gilmour, C, Saginaw
194. Dallas Stars: Dylan Ferguson, G, Kamloops
195. Boston Bruins (from FLA): Victor Berglund, D, Modo Jr.
196. Philadelphia Flyers (from LA via TBL): Wyatt Kalynuk, D, Bloomington
197. Carolina Hurricanes: Ville Rasanen, D, Jokipojat
198. Winnipeg Jets: Skyler Mckenzie, LW, Portland
199. Montreal Canadiens (from PHI): Cayden Primeau, G, Lincoln
200. Tampa Bay Lightning: Samuel Walker, C, Edina
201. New York Islanders: Logan Cockerill, LW, USA U-18
202. Calgary Flames: Filip Sveningsson, LW, HV 71 Jr.
203. Toronto Maple Leafs: Ryan O’Connell, D, St. Andrews College
204. Boston Bruins: Daniel Bukac, D, Brandon
205. New Jersey Devils (from SJS): Yegor Zaitsev, D, Balashikha
206. St. Louis Blues: Anton Andersson, D, Lulea Jr.
207. New York Rangers: Patrik Virta, C, TPS
208. Edmonton Oilers: Philip Kemp, D, USA U-18
209. Minnesota Wild: Nick Swaney, RW, Waterloo
210. Columbus Blue Jackets: Robbie Stucker, D, St. Thomas
211. Winnipeg Jets (from MTL): Croix Evingson, D, Shreveport
212. San Jose Sharks (from CHI): Ivan Chekhovich, LW, Baie-Comeau
213. Washington Capitals: Kristian Roykas Marthinsen, LW, Almtuna Jr.
214. New Jersey Devils (from OTT, SJS): Matthew Hellickson, D, Sioux City
215. Chicago Blackhawks (from ANA): Joshua Ess, D, Lakeville South
216. Nashville Predators: Jacob Paquette, D, Kingston
217. Pittsburgh Penguins: William Reilly, D, RPI
Special to The Hockey Clan
John Christian Hageny / @JCCSPORTS
New Jersey Devils One Jersey Grassroots Team Writer
Main Image: New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier (left), Philadelphia Flyers select center Nolan Patrick (right), and Dallas Stars select defenseman Miro Heiskanen (center) pose for a photo after being selected in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft on June 23, 2017, at the United Center, in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)