New Jersey Devils: Is Nico Hischier The Answer?
Coming off another long offseason, the New Jersey Devils are looking for a spark. A player that can re-energize the organization and bring them back to respectability.
Enter Nico Hischier.
The first overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Hischier is an elite talent. He’s drawn comparisons to Henrik Zetterberg or if you’re looking more recently, Nikita Kucherov. With slick hands and top notch speed, he can create something out of nothing. That’s a rare commodity; something that can’t be taught.
For the Devils, Hischier has the ability to make a difference. All indications point to him starting in the top six, a role usually reserved for veteran players. He’ll have plenty of help, as Marcus Johansson was acquired in a trade with the Washington Capitals and Drew Stafford was signed as a free agent.
Brian Boyle, an experienced veteran, will lend a hand as well. His leadership has made a difference at every stop. A key voice in the locker room, he’s mentored many young players as they make the transition to full-time NHL player. Those players include Chris Kreider, Nikita Kucherov, and Auston Matthews to name a few. Hischier can now be added to that list.
Defensively, the Devils landed top prospect Will Butcher. The reigning Hobey Baker Award winner led Denver to the national championship and was the best player in NCAA Division I hockey last year. He’ll be counted on to help out with the power play, as well as shorthanded.
In goal, the Devils are hoping for a bounce-back year out of Cory Schneider. The longtime veteran couldn’t have been pleased with his 2016-17′ numbers, as the 2.82 goals-against average and .908 save percentage were the highest of his starting career. He also had a team-high 20 wins, an indication that backup Keith Kinkaid isn’t super reliable either.
Are the Devils capable of pulling a Toronto Maple Leafs type move, going from worst to playoffs in one season? If Hischier surpasses expectations, there’s little doubt that this team could be in for their shortest offseason in five years.