More NHL Notes: Devils draft Nico Hischier with No. 1 overall pick

More NHL Notes: Devils draft Nico Hischier with No. 1 overall pick

CHICAGO -- The New Jersey Devils have selected center Nico Hischier with the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL draft.

The 18-year-old Hischier is the highest drafted Swiss player in the NHL history. He had 38 goals and 86 points in 57 games with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this past season. He spent the previous two seasons in the Swiss pro league, where he was coached by current Ottawa Senators coach Guy Boucher.

Hischier fits in nicely with general manager Ray Shero's desire to put a faster team on the ice. New Jersey is coming off its worst season in nearly three decades, finishing with a 28-40-14 record.

But Hischier is listed at 6-foot-2 and 179 pounds, and will need to put on more muscle to succeed in the NHL.

The draft is being held in Chicago for the first time (see full story).

Capitals: Oshie signs 8-year, $46 million extension
CHICAGO -- The Washington Capitals have re-signed right winger T.J. Oshie to a $46 million, eight-year contract.

Oshie will count $5.75 million against the salary cap through the 2024-25 season.

General manager Brian MacLellan announced the deal Friday just before the start of the NHL draft. Oshie was set to be an unrestricted free agent.

The 30-year-old forward tied Alex Ovechkin for the team lead with 33 goals last season. That was a career high, as he has 56 points despite playing only 68 games.

In 591 NHL games with St. Louis and Washington, Oshie has 169 goals and 248 assists for 417 points (see full story).

Blackhawks: Team continues overhaul with trade
CHICAGO -- General manager Stan Bowman promised changes were coming after the Chicago Blackhawks were swept in the first round of the playoffs.

Boy, he wasn't kidding.

Chicago re-acquired Brandon Saad and parted with Niklas Hjalmarsson and Artemi Panarin in a pair of surprising trades Friday, giving the Blackhawks a younger look and more cost certainty for their roster.

"This is a day of highs and lows," Bowman said. "There's some tougher conversations, but there's also, we're moving ahead, we're excited about what we have coming in."

The Blackhawks won the Central Division last season with a 50-23-9 record, finishing with the most points in the Western Conference. But they were swept by Nashville in the opening series, managing just three goals in 13 periods in an embarrassing performance for a team with three championships since 2010.

Bowman angrily called it a complete failure, and then overhauled coach Joel Quenneville's staff and replaced the coach of the team's top minor league affiliate.

Turns out he was just getting started.

Bowman traded forwards Panarin and Tyler Motte and Chicago's sixth-round selection in this weekend's NHL draft to Columbus for Saad, goaltender Anton Forsberg and a fifth-round draft pick next year. The deal was announced less than an hour after Hjalmarsson was traded to Arizona for defenseman Connor Murphy and forward Laurent Dauphin (see full story).

Flyers select Nolan Patrick with No. 2 overall pick in NHL draft

Flyers select Nolan Patrick with No. 2 overall pick in NHL draft

CHICAGO — Nolan Patrick is a Flyer.

For only the second time in team history since the NHL draft has been conducted, the Flyers held the No. 2 overall pick.

And Friday night at United Center, the Flyers used that pick to select Patrick, a 6-foot-3, 198-pound Canadian forward, who played in Brandon this past season.

The 18-year-old centerman is considered NHL-ready, though he is not a lock to play for the Flyers this season. He will be given every reasonable chance to make the roster, according to general manager Ron Hextall.

The Flyers weren't certain Patrick would be their pick until New Jersey selected Swiss forward Nico Hischier, who played in Halifax, with the No. 1 pick.

"They're both two-way players," Hextall said this week. "They both make plays. They can both score goals. They both compete hard. Both should be top NHL players. Patrick's a little bit more looks for the right play and makes the play."

Because of several injuries, Patrick was limited to just 33 games for Brandon in the Western Hockey League last season. He scored 20 goals with 46 points — half as many goals as he had the previous season when healthy.

His NHL lineage is strong. His father Steve Patrick played 250 games with Buffalo, while his uncle James Patrick played 1,280 NHL games with four clubs (more on that here).

Nolan was rated No. 1 overall by NHL Central Scouting in its final rankings this spring.

Given the noticeable upsurge with the Sixers, who traded for the No. 1 overall pick in this year's NBA draft, and the positive vibes the team has generated these past two weeks, the Flyers are under pressure to give fans an exciting product this fall at the Wells Fargo Center.

Can Patrick deliver?

"He has more than proven over the last three years that he is the real deal and will be an impact NHL player," Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting, said. "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."

It's possible the Flyers could have an opening night NHL roster with as many as six rookies on it: Patrick, Oskar Lindblom, Sam Morin, Robert Hagg, Mike Vecchione and perhaps a rookie goaltender as a backup.

Six is a lot of rookies for the Flyers.

"Well, I don't quite see it like you do," Hextall said, admitting he would be "surprised" if that were the number. "In a perfect world, you have two, three rookies on your team every year.

"There's a certain excitement, a certain influx of youth, that they infect the team with. It's kind of what you want every year. If we put two, three rookies in the lineup every year, that's terrific. Six is a little much."

U.S. junior team coach Bob Motzko recalls the time he witnessed 'electric' Nico Hischier

U.S. junior team coach Bob Motzko recalls the time he witnessed 'electric' Nico Hischier

Bob Motzko never felt comfortable.

Not with Nico Hischier on the ice.

Motzko's U.S. team was leading Switzerland, 2-0, in the quarterfinals of the 2017 World Junior Championship. At the time, the head coach of the Americans had only heard of Hischier.

And then bam — he saw him. Hischier was coming, and at full force.

"I'll be honest, I didn't know him at all outside of the name," Motzko said this week in a phone interview with CSNPhilly.com.

"When we were getting ready to play that game and breaking film down, and then being on the bench — he was electric. He was a player that could change the game any minute."

It took over just 15 minutes on the game clock for Hischier to erase the two-goal deficit on a pair of plays often seen in NHL highlight reels. The first came in the second period when Hischier, composed and confident, gathered a loose puck off a blocked shot, smoothly faked a defender and scored in traffic. The second was a persistent Hischier who, after failing to score at one angle, slickly wrapped around the net before anyone could stop him for the third-period equalizer.

Just like that, Hischier, two days before his 18th birthday, singlehandedly had a stacked U.S. team pinned against the ropes. In the moment, Hischier was like a tidal wave Motzko's bunch was simply trying to survive. But in the grand picture, it etched a mark in Hischier's meteoric rise to becoming a top-two prospect for this weekend's NHL draft in Chicago.

To crown the winner of a neck-and-neck race, either Hischier or Canadian center Nolan Patrick will be the No. 1 overall pick by the Devils Friday night. Whoever isn't will fall to No. 2, where Ron Hextall and the Flyers wait.

Back on Jan. 2, in the midst of the World Junior Championship, Motzko was so impressed with Hischier, he called him "the best player we've seen in this tournament." That was no slight to rest of the field — it was just how captivating Hischier turned out to be when witnessed live.

"There were so many great players there, the emotions of it at that time taking over, I just thought that young guy was making an impact against the top teams in the country," Motzko said. "He was making an impact every game."

He nearly upended the U.S., which went on to win the tournament by beating Canada, 5-4, in a thrilling shootout. Hischier came oh-so-close to ruining that run.

"I'll tell you right now," Motzko said, "if not for a save by our goaltender with about [four minutes] to go, there's a good chance we don't get to the gold-medal game."

After Hischier's game-tying goal, the U.S. regained the lead 18 seconds later. With 4:09 left in regulation, Hischier was robbed of a hat trick and another equalizer by a magnificent glove save from U.S. goalie Tyler Parsons.

"We knew we dodged a bullet, big time, getting out of that game," Motzko said. "To think if that game would have gone into overtime.

"With a guy like Nico in there, you don't want to get that game in overtime, because it would have been a full diet of him in overtime — I'm not sure he would have came off the ice. We were very relieved when we got out of that game."

Two days earlier, the U.S. had beaten Canada in the preliminaries. Hischier then gave the Americans a nightmare quarterfinal matchup.

"That was not a great game for us, that was coming off of our Canada win," Motzko, a 12-year coach of St. Cloud State University, said. "We were so fortunate. … You did not want to be in a one-goal game against that team with Nico Hischier on the ice. That's what we ended up getting, a one-goal game. If not for our goaltending, there's a chance — it was just a heck of a save. The puck fell on the right guy's stick, it's just our goalie stood tall."

Hischier was more than advertised and finished the world juniors with seven points (four goals, three assists) in five games.

"He just kept validating it as we were watching, really the clips of the tournament — it wasn't one play, it was all the plays that he was making," Motzko said.

A performance that will be remembered when Hischier walks across the draft stage on Friday night at the United Center — possibly taking pictures in a Flyers jersey.

"When you're in that tournament, you're seeing a lot of the future stars in the NHL," Motzko said. "There's no question, if you're a player in that tournament that's making an impact like he did, you're seeing a potential future star. That's the best of the under-20 in the world, outside of a handful of the guys in the National Hockey League. That young man has one bright future in front him."