Fischer succeeds in USA camp, at defense

By Simon Richard

The Montreal Canadiens’ first choice in the 2006 Entry Draft, David Fischer, is participating in the U.S. Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid, NY.

“In a way, I’m a little bit surprised to be here,” confessed Fischer to Hockey’s Future in the opening day of the camp. “I was asked to be part of the team when I was about to turn 18, but I was asked to be a forward, so I respectfully declined the invitation.”

Now a defenseman, the 6’4, 185-pound Apple Valley, Minnesota native was selected at the 20th slot this year. “I was very excited,” he recalled. “For five years you are getting scouted, and then, your name is called in the first round by such a historic franchise like Montreal. It was a fantasy.”

Fischer was the fourth defenseman selected overall after Eric Johnson (STL), Ty Wishart (SJ) and Mark Mitera (ANA). The 18-year-old Fischer was also the sixth American chosen overall in the 2006 draft.

At the conclusion of the 2005-06 season, he was named Mr. Hockey, an award given to the top high school player in the State of Minnesota. Several past winners of this award were NHL players like Paul Martin (2002), Jeff Taffe (1999), Erik Rasmussen (1995) and former Canadien Tom Chorske, who was in fact the first award winner.

Fischer, who played forward until he was 13 years old, also was named to the Press All State Team. Fischer’s team, the Apple Valley Eagles won the championship upsetting the league’s No. 1 team.

Known as a solid two-way defenseman, Fischer was generally not expected to go in the first round. The Habs grabbed him though because they appreciated his skating, his overall skills and especially his natural leadership.

Fischer was then invited to attend the Habs Development Camp in mid-July. “It was amazing,” he said of the camp. “At first, I was a little skeptical walking into it, when I was there though, it was a blast – the city, all the guys there and the staff.

“Everything was great – from the meals to the time passed on the ice and the seminars we did. I loved it all and I’m just looking forward to next year.”

While asked what he learned in the Montreal’s camp, Fischer said “a lot of stuff, it gives you a little flavor of how the rookie and training camps are, you have to have a good attitude about it, you get prepared for a new gear of the speed of the game and you learn to be ready to react much more rapidly because the next step will be so much quicker.”

A true leader

The key word often repeated about Fischer is leadership. He lights up a dressing room and makes his teammates better, the reports say of him. He’s certainly quite well-spoken as well.

“He is a natural leader, he plays with many of the invitees of the U.S. here, like Kyle Okposo and Peter Mueller and he was the leader of the group on the ice,” commented the Montreal Canadiens Scouting Director Trevor Timmins during the game between USA White against Finland on August 9.

“What I like the best about David Fischer is the way he thinks the game,” added Timmins.

So far so good in Lake Placid

In the first two games of the USA White Team, Fischer was paired with Brian Strait (PIT) at the beginning of the games, but the USA pairs changed as seven defensemen were in the roster.

Fischer was just delighted with the play following a game. “You know what, I’ve thought [the games] were really good. The pace is faster than I ever played before.

“I think that I played solid hockey in both games, I tried to make easy plays and take it easy on the ice. Playing in this historic stadium [the 1980 Rink] was a blast,” said Fischer.

“He impressed me so far here in Lake Placid, it is a big jump from the level of high school,” commented Timmins. “He had another good performance tonight against Finland.”

The Head Coach of Team USA, Ron Rolston, had also very good words to say about Fischer after that game. “I did not watch him play except at this camp but I have been very impressed with him so far.

“I think that he is smart and he has got good vision. He makes the right plays at the right times and puts the puck right on the tape.”

According to Timmins, Fischer will just eventually get better and better. “Having not played for the U.S. NTDP program may diminish a little bit his chances to make the team, but he has the talent and skills to play against the best junior players.

“He will play against older players next fall and you will see that he will not be the same player in a few months from now,” stated Timmins, referring to Fischer’s move to the University of Minnesota.

“He has just an enormous upside,” said Rolston.

U.S. Junior team assistant coach Phil Housley said of Fischer, “He is gonna be big. He is still young, he has a great future ahead of him.”

“He will make the NHL,” said an anonymous NHL scout talking about Fischer.

The Habs have had success selecting American-born defensemen in the past. Among them, Rod Langway (36th overall), Craig Ludwig (61st overall) and Chris Chelios (40th overall) were all selected later than Fischer.

Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.