(Reuters) - The New Jersey Devils selected Swiss center Nico Hischier of the Halifax Mooseheads with the first overall pick in the 2017 National Hockey League Entry Draft in Chicago on Friday, ending suspense about who would go first in the competitive draft.
With the selection, the 18-year-old becomes the highest-drafted Swiss player in NHL history. The previous high was Nino Niederreiter who went fifth overall in 2010.
“I’m speechless,” an overwhelmed Hischier said in an interview after the selection was announced.
“It has been my biggest goal to play in the NHL and I’m so happy and happy that my family is here.”
Hischier, who has a competitive drive to be a difference maker every time he is on the ice, was named the Canadian Hockey League’s rookie of the year last month after scoring 86 points in 57 games.
The Naters, Switzerland native is known for his dynamic skills, crisp passing and physical play.
With the second overall pick the Philadelphia Flyers chose Brandon Wheat Kings center Nolan Patrick, who some thought could have been the overall number one pick but was held back due to concerns about injuries.
“I’m really happy for him,” Patrick said of Hischier.
“And for myself I’m honored to be a Flyer and happy to get work started. It should be fun,” he said.
Patrick, a smooth skater who is composed with the puck, was named the Most Valuable Player of the Western Hockey League’s 2016 playoffs after helping the Wheat Kings win their first championship in 20 years.
The 6-ft 2-in two-way player is the son of former NHL player Stephen Patrick, who was drafted in 1980 and played for the Buffalo Sabres, New York Rangers and Quebec Nordiques.
The Dallas Stars used the third pick to take Finnish defenseman Miro Heiskanen while expansion team the Las Vegas Golden Knights used their number six pick to choose center Cody Glass of the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League.
Editing by Ian Ransom