Nico Hischier: A Surprise No. 1 Pick In The 2017 NHL Draft?

Nico Hischier: A Surprise No. 1 Pick In The 2017 NHL Draft?
Photo: Halifax Mooseheads
Nico Hischier's recent scoring surge has put him in the spotlight as the potential first overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.

Prior to -- and continuously during -- the 2016-17 season, Nolan Patrick of the Western Hockey League's Brandon Wheat Kings has been the consensus No. 1 pick. Hischier has raised his stock from a mid-to-late first-rounder to being ranked No. 2, behind only Patrick.

But with each passing game, the 18-year-old Swiss rookie strengthens his case for the coveted first overall selection.

Since leaving Switzerland's highest league, Hischier's game has developed rapidly in his first year in North American hockey. He has recorded 37 goals and 76 points through 43 games for the Halifax Mooseheads in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Halifax general manager Cam Russell told CBC that "there's no limit to what [Hischier] can do," adding that he's a well-rounded player and his two-way game is underappreciated.

The 6-foot, 174-pound center's 76 points place him third in QMJHL scoring, trailing only Tyler Boland's 87 points and Maxime Fortier's 78 points, who have played 10 and nine more games than Hischier, respectively. 

Hischier scored an impressive 23 goals and 48 points through his first 31 games before missing six while participating in the World Junior Championship with his home country of Switzerland.

During the tournament, Hischier scored another four goals and seven points before Team USA eliminated the Swiss in the quarterfinals.

He has tallied another 14 goals and 28 points in his 12 games following the tournament and continues to build momentum as potentially the first Swiss-born player to be drafted first overall. His shots per game exploded from 3.7 to 5.3 as well as his goals per game, which rose from 0.7 to 1.6.

Hischier continued to impress during the 2017 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, which annually pits the top draft prospects against each other. He recorded a goal and two assists while flying all over the ice against the best talent his age.

After missing three months, Patrick returned with a vengeance, recording two goals and two assists in his first game back for the Wheat Kings. Even with Hischier's fantastic play, Patrick's ability to produce upon his return could be enough to beat Hischier out as 2017's No. 1 pick.

Have a question or comment for Jacob Messing? You can contact him on Twitter at @JMessing23.
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