Top NHL draft picks face off when Devils host Flyers –

The 2017 NHL draft was the Nico and Nolan show, with passionate debates about whether Nico Hischier or Nolan Patrick would be the first overall selection.

Ultimately, the New Jersey Devils (22-11-8) made Hischier the first Swiss-born player in league history chosen first overall and the Philadelphia Flyers (19-15-8) grabbed Patrick with the next selection.

Nearly seven months later, the top two picks in the most recent draft face one another on the ice for the first time as professionals when the Devils host the Flyers on Saturday night at the Prudential Center.

“Don’t judge Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier,” Devils general manager Ray Shero recently told “They’re kids and they’re going to be good players. For us, we’re real happy with Nico. Having said that, I know Nolan Patrick will be a real good player.”

However, it’s the nature of sports to compare athletes, especially those selected with the top two picks in a draft. And expect the debates to rage on for years to come with Hischier and Patrick both playing in the Metropolitan Division, facing each other a minimum of four times a season.

Hischier, who turned 19 last week, has the smoother transition of the two to the NHL, so far. With 26 points, Hischier is tied for second on the Devils in scoring with fellow rookie Jesper Bratt. His 18 assists are also second on the team.

Among league rookies, Hischier is tied for ninth in points and fourth in assists.

It has not been as productive for Patrick, who has only two goals, six assists and eight points. He also missed nine games earlier in the year because of injury. Patrick is without a goal in his last 23 games.

“I got to know him and he’s a great guy,” Hischier said of

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