In the days leading up to the 2017 NHL draft—perhaps even in the final moments—the hockey community remained divided on who was most deserving of the No. 1 crown. With Swiss-born Nico Hischier and Canadian Nolan Patrick both vying for the honour, New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero ended the speculation when he called Hischier to the stage, making the teenager the first No. 1 pick to ever hail from Switzerland. Five months later, the young pivot has thrived with his new club, tallying 11 points through 16 games and looking every bit a star in the making. And that performance hasn’t gone unnoticed, it seems. If there was any doubt that the young Devil was the right pick, the club recently got as good a vote of confidence as they could hope for: props from The Great One himself. That’s according to former Devils star Ken Daneyko, now serving as a broadcaster for MSG, who recently recalled Wayne Gretzky reaching out to compliment Hischier after the Devils’ overtime loss to Edmonton on Thursday. “I pick up my phone, I look at my texts right after the game, and some guy goes ‘Hey tell that No. 13 I love watching him play. He’s so enjoyable,'” Daneyko said on a recent broadcast. “I asked ‘By the way who is this?’ and he responded ‘…99.’ It was Wayne Gretzky, texting me to tell me he loves watching Nico Hischier.” The Devils broadcasters relayed Gretzky’s message to the young centreman on Saturday. Unsurprisingly, the 18-year-old was glad to hear he had a fan in the game’s all-time leading scorer. “Really? Wow, that’s pretty impressive,” Hischier said. “If the greatest one of all time is saying that, it’s pretty neat. If that’s true, it kind of shocks me. I’m a little bit speechless. It’s a big compliment.” Just one month into his rookie campaign, Hischier has already made waves for New Jersey, showing off his silky smooth mitts on more than one occasion while showing plenty of two-way promise as well.
The Great One heaps praise on Devils rookie Nico Hischier
Sportsnet | Nov 12