Nico Hischier was worth first-overall
This one is complicated because we can’t say that Nico Hischier is better than Cale Makar or Elias Pettersson. There will always be players who have a chance to be better than first overall when there’s not a clear talent at number one. 2017 was one of the strangest NHL Drafts in recent memory. There was clearly a lot of talent at the top, but most of it hadn’t come to fruition or it came with major question marks.
The consensus was Nolan Patrick vs. Hischier for number one. A small contingent wanted to go with Miro Heiskanen, and there are rumors a Devils scout was pounding the table for Cale Makar. However, it seemed like the choice was between the two centers. The Devils made the right choice in Hischier.
After a few years where Hischier was good but not great, he hit another level in 2022-23. Not only was he a Selke Trophy candidate, but he hit his career high in points by a mile. His 80 points were tied for 29th in the league, tying John Tavares and Kyle Connor. He also recorded his first 30-goal season.
While Hischier isn’t Makar or Pettersson, he is playing at a level that is worthy of a number-one overall pick. This isn’t a bust we’re talking about. This is a certified star on a team that looks to be a contender for a long time. On top of all that, he’s this team’s captain. We wouldn’t have it any other way, even if you gave us a time machine to go back to 2017.