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June 23, 2017

Nico Hischier vs. Nolan Patrick: Who should the Flyers be hoping to land in NHL Draft?

The Flyers struck gold in the NHL Draft Lottery by winning the second-overall pick despite narrowly missing the playoffs and being expected to pick in the teens.

In any year, that would be considered a gift from the hockey gods, but it’s even more important in this specific draft, with many considering two young centers – Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier – to be in a class of their own. And by owning the No. 2 pick, the Flyers are guaranteed to have the opportunity to draft one of them.

Of course, the Devils, who have the top pick, will get to decide which of those two players is left for Ron Hextall, but they could go off the board and take someone else – hey, crazier things have happened – leaving both players available for the Flyers.

By all accounts, the Flyers are going to take one of these two forwards, so lets take a look at each and see which one would be the better fit in Orange and Black:


Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

POSITION: Center  |  SHOOTS: Left

HEIGHT: 6' 2"  |  WEIGHT: 179

BORN: Jan. 4, 1999  |  HOMETOWN: Naters, Switzerland


•  Ranked #1 by
•  Ranked #2 by ISS Hockey
•  Ranked #2 by Future Considerations
•  Ranked #2 by McKeen's Hockey
•  Ranked #2 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)
•  Ranked #1 by TSN/McKenzie

Nico Hischier is a highly skilled offensive forward. Smart at both end of the ice, as he plays a reliable two-way game. Has good size and still room to get stronger. Excellent skater with good quickness and top speed. Possesses strong hockey sense and on-ice awareness for both attacking opponents and his teammates and with this ability he can escape fore-checkers and make quick plays, as he sees passing lanes before they open. Has game-breaking abilities and can turn the outcome of a game. Nico Hischier leads by example has the potential to be a top-line center and a clutch player his Team can turn to late in the game.  []

NHL Central Scouting

Elite prospect with excellent hockey sense – able to make plays with speed and accuracy – complete player that competes at both ends of the rink – excels at finding open teammates and creating open ice for himself – excellent vision and playmaking skills as well as ability to score – strong puck possession game with competitive drive to be a difference maker every time he’s on the ice.  []

Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting

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.  []



"My prediction is that the better the teammates, the better Nico's qualities will shine. He has a high-end hockey brain, a perfect mix of being self-confident while still remaining humble. He grew over the last 24 months, and now has decent size. He will have a good, athletic hockey body pretty soon. It was no surprise for me that he adapted so fast to the major junior style of play because one of his very best qualities is his ability as a very fast and keen learner."

"We like his hockey sense better, seems like he can be more of an impact player than the other guy."   – Anonymous NHL Scout, via

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Brandon Wheat Kings (QMJHL)

POSITION: Center  |  SHOOTS: Right

HEIGHT: 6' 2"  |  WEIGHT: 199

BORN: Sept. 19, 1998  |  HOMETOWN: Winnipeg, Man.


•  Ranked #2 by
•  Ranked #1 by ISS Hockey
•  Ranked #1 by Future Considerations
•  Ranked #1 by McKeen's Hockey
•  Ranked #1 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)
•  Ranked #2 by TSN/McKenzie

Ryan Pike, The Hockey Writers

Patrick is a guy that does everything well and nothing poorly. He skates well, with effective acceleration, good top speed and strong mobility. He’s a good 200-foot player, strong both with the puck and away from the puck, though he tends to be most effective in the offensive zone. He’s more of a pass-first player than a shoot-first player, but he doesn’t seem to lean on one single tendency within games – which makes him tough to anticipate in the offensive zone and creates headaches for defenders.  []

NHL Central Scouting

Possesses the skating, skills and smarts associated with a top overall pick – very smooth and composed with the puck – doesn’t get rattled or panic when pressured – excellent hockey sense with very food vision and anticipation – displays Steve Yzerman-like leadership ability; makes players around him better – excellent shot – equally proficient as a playmaker and a finisher – effective size/strength game; competitive and willing to engage in one-on-one and stand up for himself and teammates – complete hockey package.  []

Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting

He has more than proven over the last three years that he is the real deal and will be an impact NHL player. The poise, the presence, the attention to detail, the way he processes and executes plays – everything has been far more precise, far more accurate and a lot quicker this season.  []



"I go Patrick because it's hard to find those centers who can kind of do everything. He's big, skilled, makes plays and is tough. Finding a good center really solidifies a line. I think Hischier is a hybrid winger; that big center is so important. You can't stop size and strength. You can shut down a smaller forward with a bigger defenseman and a good defensive system. I'll take the bigger guy in Patrick."

"Patrick brings that element, that toughness. He's hard to play against and is a two-way center who can score. His skating is probably his weakness right now and the first thing he'll admit, but he's going to be a heck of a player. If I'm getting Hischier in the draft, I'm excited. But I still think that right-shot, big strong center, is too hard to pass up at No. 1."  – Anonymous NHL Scout, via

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Either way, it seems like the Flyers are going to be getting a hell of a player with the No. 2 pick. And while it was looking like that would be Hischier for a while, he’s recently overtaken Patrick atop Bob McKenzie’s consensus rankings (in which he has 10 different NHL scouts vote on the players). 

The truth of the matter is that there really isn't much separating Hischier and Patrick and there hasn't been for the last few months. That certainly wasn't the case at season's start.

Patrick was the unanimous No. 1 prospect on TSN preseason ranking and Hischier wasn't in Top 15, just missing out at No. 16. But by midseason – after Hischier starred for Switzerland at the World Junior Championship while Patrick continued to be dogged by injury and inactivity – Hischier began chipping away at Patrick’s lead, winning over two of the 10 scouts.

By the draft lottery edition rankings in late April, it was virtual dead heat ­– five votes for Patrick and five votes for Hischier. In fact, to break the tie, TSN had to survey 23 scouts, with Patrick ultimately getting the nod, 12-11.

In TSN's final ranking, though, the arrival of an interloper – the flashy Junior A offensive defenceman Makar – contributed to Hischier being alone at the top.

It's an unprecedented rise for Hischier.  []

So what made the difference?

“I think the big turning point was the [2017] World Junior Championship," said one scout of Hischier's meteoric rise to No. 1. "As a draft eligible player, he was as dangerous as any player in the tournament and against the toughest competition any prospect faces. That's when the notion of him [passing Patrick] became a consideration.” []

Hischier recorded seven points in five games for Switzerland at the World Junior Championships, but it’s more than that.

"Hischier is a more dynamic player than Patrick," another scout told McKenzie. "He plays with more energy, more intensity and at a faster pace."

We’ll have to wait and see if the Devils agree with those scouts and draft the Swiss center with the top pick or if they opt for the Canadian, Patrick, instead … or go totally off the board.