Maxime Fortier has seen his fair share of talent roll through the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Up close, too.
Add Nico Hischier to that category.
“I think he’s right there,” Fortier said. “He has to be proud of himself. He’s in that category of highly skilled players and I think he will be a top-three, top-two, even first overall (pick).”
Hischier has pieced together an incredible rookie season in Halifax.
The 2017 NHL Draft eligible Hischier, fourth in Future Considerations’ Winter ranking, has 34 goals and 70 points in just 41 games, and added four goals and seven points in five games with Switzerland at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship.
By comparison, Drouin had 41 goals and 105 points in 49 games as a draft eligible in 2012-13. He was drafted third overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Ehlers had 49 goals and 101 points in 51 games before being drafted ninth overall by the Winnipeg Jets in the 2014 NHL Draft.
Meier had 44 goals and 90 points in 61 games, and was drafted ninth overall by the San Jose Sharks in 2015.
Fortier has been teammates with them all for varying durations.
“I’ve played with Drouin, Ehlers, Meier,” he started.
“And [Hischier] has something special.
It’s not hard to see.
Hischier is definitely trending that way.
“It’s fun to play with him, obviously,” said Fortier, who is also eligible for the 2017 NHL Draft after being passed over in 2016. “He can do anything on the ice. He’s really talented. But he works hard.
“Even though he does something good he always wants to be better.
“I think that’s how everyone should act.
“It’s really fun to play with that kind of player.”