Hischier pushing for first overall consideration

Dan Stewart2017 Draft Center, IIHF, QMJHL

Photo courtesy Halifax Mooseheads

The old adage rang true.

A bad tournament will never hurt an NHL Draft eligible player.

A good tournament will only help.

A great tournament will launch.

Switzerland’s Nico Hischier falls into the latter.

Big time.

Hischier, who jumped from 20th overall between Future Considerations’ Fall ranking (released in early November) to third in the Winter ranking (released last week) was already trending in the right direction.

His performance at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship didn’t hurt that.

“(Hischier) was the best player we’d seen in this tournament,” Team USA coach Bob Motzko declared after his group dispatched of Switzerland in quarterfinal action Jan. 2.

“We tried all four lines against him and I thought he was playing every shift because every time he got out there the ice was tilted.

“The first thing we said when we got into the locker room was that that’s the best player we’ve seen in the tournament.”

Us too.

Hischier netted four goals — including two against Motzko’s Americans, and seven points in five games at the tournament, but his presence transcended his stats line.

He was a constant threat on a Swiss team that lacked offensive weapons, displaying why he’s trending up the NHL Draft charts so rapidly.

His attention to both ends of the ice doesn’t hurt, either.

Not when he’s modelling his game after the legendary Pavel Datsyuk.

“I like his game,” Hischier said. “He’s a defensive center and that’s the way I want to play.

“He’s good offensive and defensively and that’s how I try to be.”

So far so good, and with 26 goals and 54 points in 33 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League games this season he certainly has the offensive portion figured out.

An equally impressive showing on the international stage outlined that, too.

One that’s given pause for some.

So much so that the 17-year-old Halifax Mooseheads pivot has nudged himself into the conversation for the first overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.

Nolan Patrick has some company.

With all due respect paid to the Brandon Wheat Kings captain, who has been limited to just six games this season, there’s a new challenger to the throne.

Granted, Hischier needs to leapfrog Swedish defenseman Timothy Liljegren, and Casey Mittelstadt in the rankings.

He’s close.

And there’s still half a season to go.

But the best part from Hischier?

He doesn’t care about that top spot.

Not yet.

Not with the sting of the tournament still present.

“You personally, you have to put you in the back of your head, so I’m not happy (with the tournament),” Hischier said after elimination.

“I’m proud of the way I played but I don’t think about that right now.”

That’s okay, Nico.

Everyone else is.