The “Swiss Can’t Miss” has taken North America by storm in this his rookie QMJHL campaign, being among the league leaders in scoring all season, and then his performance at both the Top Prospects Game and WJC’s only cemented his status as a top-two prospect for the draft. His combination of elite skill and hockey sense make him arguably the best two-way forward available. He has top-line upside if he gains the strength needed to face the NHL’s top players.
NHL Scouts’ Comments
Oct. 2016 – He’s good. He’s a little skinny but he’s not afraid to get in there and make plays. He doesn’t have a lot to play with there either. Trying to decide who is better between him and Comtois. He’s quick he’s agile, he’s on the puck a little more.
Mar. 7, 2017 -He takes great pride in being a great defensive player. He really wants to. He would jump into the defensive drills..and the coach Andre Tourigny would go “what are you doing? ‘Well..sometimes I play defence on the powerplay, so I want to know how I can get back.’ He works on the defence drills so he can be better at that part of his game. So he’s just one of those kids that does everything to make himself better.
April 26, 2017 – He’s an above-average shooter, but what makes him dangerous is his options. He can score but he can also look guys off and make great plays. I’ve seen a lot of tap-in goals by his linemates that he can set up. He’s relentless in his battles. He’s not a big strong guy but he’s never worried to be first on pucks. He uses his body well. His strength need to get better. So a lot of good things about this player. He’s a good player…a really good player.
May 15, 2017 – You were always intrigued because he was so good at playing both ends of the ice, you saw the creativity..you figured it was just a matter of time. He’s just so well rounded. He’s got some dynamics to him, but it’s not like he goes out there and sets the pace every shift. He really knows whenever things are going well on a particular shift to not just chase pucks. He goes ‘ok..things aren’t going great this shift I better make sure I don’t get scored on’…so he doesn’t play that selfish offensive style. I like that about him…he’s a good linemate in that he makes everybody better. When he gets the puck they know to get open because he’s going to get the puck to them. They work harder to get open ice because they know he can find them. He just makes everybody else better on his line.
Comments from his coach Andre Tourigny Feb. 24, 2017 – Nico is really competitive, and he has a great skillset. He can skate, he’s really shifty, he can pass, he has quick hands, good shot. He works so hard defensively. I’ve never seen a player his age so proud of his defence. He’s the whole package. If you pick top five that means you have to build your team around that player, I would be so happy to build my team around him for the next 20 years …a person like Hischier…a player like Hischier. Nico is such a good man, good heart. He’s very polite, respectful, I’ve spoke to his parents and I can’t say enough about the values. A lot of reasons why he’d be a really really good pick.
He can beat you in so many ways. He can beat you with faceoffs. he can beat you with defensive play..he’s really, really proud of his defence, he can beat you with his work ethic, his intensity, his skill, he can beat you on the rush. He can beat you on the power play, he can beat you on the PK. He’s a really complete player. I compare him a lot to Henrik Zetterberg when he was in his prime. When you were playing against him he was always efficient in every area of the game.
When you are that good defensively at that age….I’ve never seen that before. I’ve coached really good players at U-18’s and World juniors, in the NHL The pride he has to play well defensively..I’ve never seen that. He studies so much defensively. We’re doing a drill with defencemen under pressure on a breakout, a drill where defencemen have to break out under hard pressure..and Nico asked me if he could go as a defenceman. I asked why, and he said sometimes during the game when I’m back with the puck I’m under pressure..I want to make sure I can break out with the puck from my own one.’
I said ‘oh my god.’ He wants to be a pro, he wants to be good defensively. Every time he’s here in my office the first thing he asks me about is his defence. He is special, he’s an awesome player. He sees the game sometimes where nobody can. I talked to a lot of scouts this weekend and they were saying he will go really early. He weighs 177. He’s lean right now but he will fill out. You look at Kyle Turris…Kyle will never fill out..he’s so skinny..that’s not the case with Nico. ..he will fill out, get bigger. When we recruited him he answered all the good questions..what’s your workout program..he had all of that planned out.”