Christian Fischer will skate into Notre Dame with lofty expectations.
Fischer, a winger from Wayne, Ill., has spent two seasons at the U.S. National Team Development Program ahead of his freshman year in South Bend. He’s also another top NHL prospect to join Jeff Jackson’s program.
Fischer participated in the NHL’s scouting combine earlier this month. He’s rated the No. 37 overall North American skater by NHL Central Scouting ahead of the draft, which begins Friday. Fischer could go late in the first round if things break right. If they don’t, he’s projected to go no later than the third round.
“You kinda wait,” Fischer said. “I’ve talked to probably almost all 30 teams by now … every team has their own list and they all have me in different places. Some teams have me higher than others. I think that’s a big thing, just stay away from all the crazy mock drafts. Each team has their own list, so I just stick to that and talk to them.”
Fischer justified that hype during a strong final season with the U.S. National Team Development Program. He had 15 goals, 15 assists and a plus-16 rating in 25 games against United States Hockey League competition, meaning he played against other top junior prospects yet to enter college. He also notched 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 18 games against college teams.
Notre Dame will need Fischer’s goal scoring after losing Vince Hinostroza (11 goals, 33 assists) and Robbie Russo (15 goals, 26 assists) to professional hockey. Hinostroza bolted Notre Dame after two seasons to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks. Russo skated for four seasons in South Bend after going in the fourth round to the New York Islanders in 2011.
Head coach Jeff Jackson believes Fischer can give Notre Dame something it’s been missing since forward Anders Lee departed three years ago after 61 goals in three seasons. Lee just finished his third season with the New York Islanders with 25 goals and 16 assists.
Jackson said Fischer (6-2, 210) skates better than Lee (6-3, 220) at comparable stages of their careers.
“(Fischer) is a big power guy,” Jackson said. “He’s got goal scoring ability. First of all, he’s a great kid that’ll be a good fit for our program. He’s got his head on straight. I can’t predict right now if he’s gonna go in the second round. He might even go at the tail end of the first round and he could drop to the third round. It’s really beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
“All I know is that he’s gonna come in and potentially be our top right winger to start the season.”
Jackson recruited Fischer out of the Chicago Mission youth hockey program, which has sent several players to South Bend, including Hinostroza, Russo and T.J. Tynan.
Fischer knew those players well and chose the Irish toward the end of his freshman year of high school. He also had options at Michigan, Miami (Ohio) and Wisconsin.
After moving on from the Mission, the winger relocated to Ann Arbor, Mich., for two seasons with the NTDP. He played in the USHL, against college teams in exhibitions and abroad in several tournaments.
“We played quite a few Hockey East teams this year and it’s a lot of goals,” Fischer said. “Lots of speedy kids in Hockey East. I’m excited to be a part of the league. I’d say if it’s not the best it’s probably top two or three in college hockey.
“I’m definitely excited to play in that league and to play in Compton. I can’t way to play there.”
Notre Dame will mark the first time in Fisher’s career that he’s represented a school instead of a club team. He’s already versed in Notre Dame sports, at least a couple of them.
“It was kinda the hometown school for me,” Fischer said. “There’s no D-I school for hockey in Illinois. I grew up going to Notre Dame football games, so it was always a college on my mind. It was kind of a shoe-in for me just being so close and the track record they have.”