The New Jersey Devils are impressed with Nico Hischier. That’s been the story coming from preseason play thus far, where the number one selection in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft has three goals in three games.
Hischier put together his best game to date against the Ottawa Senators on Monday and his Devils came out of it with an 8-1 victory. The 18-year-old had a goal and an assist in the 2017 Kraft Hockeyville Canada game.
Hischier shares the team scoring lead with Pavel Zacha and Drew Stafford and he’s been impressing his teammates thus far.
“He’s very creative,” Devils goalie Cory Schneider said. “He reads and anticipates the game very well. He seems like he is a step ahead of some guys sometimes with what he wants to do with the puck, where he wants to be on the ice.”
“He’s got incredible hockey sense,” head coach John Hynes said. “His ability to read the game and be one step ahead is excellent. He is very competitive on the puck and at the puck for a young player. Coming into this league, that was probably going to be the biggest adjustment. But he seems like he can elevate. His work ethic and coachability are fantastic.”
The Swiss forward centred a line with Stafford and Marcus Johansson so far and the three combined for nine points on Monday.
The team has been careful to temper their expectations of Hischier, of course, and that’s probably for the best. He’s not being billed as the much-needed saviour of the Devils just yet, but there are indications that something very special may be in the wind for the Garden State’s hockey club.
It isn’t known if Hischier will make the team out of training camp this season. He may still wind up back in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with Halifax for a little more seasoning.
But the Devils, who finished dead last in the Eastern Conference last season and scored just 183 goals, could certainly use some excitement up front to start the year. Getting Hischier in the mix out of the box could help in that regard.
Through it all, the prospect remains humble.
“I just take day for day,” Hischier said. “Tomorrow is a new day. I just try to work hard, help the team every day and be part of this team. I’m trying to not look too far forward. I can’t control what is going to happen.”