New Jersey Devils: Nico Hischier emerges to prove why he will always be the correct pick

New Jersey Devils. Nico Hischier (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
New Jersey Devils. Nico Hischier (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The New Jersey Devils are having a rough season in the short-term picture, but over the weekend former first overall selection Nico Hischier broke down the door to the future in a big way.

The New Jersey Devils will not follow-up their magical season last year by returning to the playoffs this season, but in perhaps something more important, this season could finally become about Nico Hischier. The Devils first overall selection two years ago.

The New Jersey Devils are having a rough season, injuries could be the biggest factor. Another huge factor is the fact that they have given up the fourth most goals in the NHL this season.

They have a leaky blue line and have been without Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall most of this season, making the defensive woes even more fatal.

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The Devils do not score a lot of goals as a team either ranking as mediocre as it gets in 16th in the league.

So, they don’t score a lot and give up a lot. It is a basic fundamental of hockey they are failing to fulfill.

However, with the Devils, especially now that the once long playoff drought is over, it is all about keeping the rebuild on track.

I’ll give GM Ray Shero credit where credit is due, aside from one little deal here or there, like the Michael Grabner one last year, Shero didn’t take last year’s magic and ruin what potential they have.

The Devils are still years away from hardcore contending. Right now it is all about getting Taylor Hall locked up long-term. It is about either getting Cory Schneider healthy or out of here. And the sudden emergence of Mackenzie Blackwood and his development.

Oh, and perhaps the biggest step to come out of the Devils’ rebuild is the name sake of this article, Nico Hischier.

When Hischier was drafted first overall in 2017, it felt like a gift. The Devils had actually gotten the first overall pick.

But, the intriguing part about the 2017 class is that for the months leading up to it, it felt like the number one pick was going to be Nolan Patrick, who went to the Flyers right after Nico.

Well, the Devils went with Nico. While we all might understand how much time it takes to truly develop into a solid NHL Center, Nico’s development has been a slow burn.

Sure, he finished with the second most points on the Devils last year, but the gap to first was large. Nico needed time.

For now, the most glorifying thing about Nico is that he is marginally better than his draft counterpart Nolan Patrick.

So, even if it was about the short-term, which the first round of the draft is the only place it potentially could be, Nico has been stout.

He has 88 points in 129 games. As for Patrick, he has just 48 points in 118 career games.

So short-term Nico was a great pick. Even the Canucks standout Elias Pettersson has 46 points in 41 games, but only made it to the NHL this season, he went a few selections after both of them.

But, to get back on track here, the number one thing the Devils need to do the rest of this season is get Nico Hischier on the fast lane to success.

He is coming along well, but as proof, on Saturday, the Devils let him wear the “A” for the first time in his career.

The “A” is just a letter, but what it means is they see the 20-year-old as a leader, a grinder, a solid player.

He is in his second full season in the NHL. He is still incredibly young with a lot to learn. However, the Devils trusted him. They gave him confidence.

In that game, he tallied two goals, doubling what he had done in the four games prior. But, like I mentioned earlier, this narrative is not about scoring.

It is not about analyzing whether or not he can play two-way hockey and center the line he is working with.

It is about passing him the torch. Giving him the green light to be a leader of this team. He has been able to do so. He proved it the first chance he could.

The Devils were gifted Nico. They were not even suppose to have that first pick. They got it and seemed to have used it correctly.

Nico Hischier does not need to be the best player of that 2017 Draft. That draft class might not even be remembered as being all that deep one day.

He might not ever have to better than Patrick or anyone else, that would just be glorious. But, all he needs to do is be the part of the Devils’ future that he is supposed to be.

He is on the fast track to being one of the best players on the Devils and as the Devils keep an eye on the future, that is all you could ask for.

And never forget this, he wore an “A”on his sweater in an NHL game before he could legally order beer in the United States.

The odds of that scenario must be ridiculously high and he already overcame them.

Next. Breaking down the dilemma the Islanders face at the trade deadline. dark

Nico Hischier is emerging as the leader of this team. This is the year of Nico Hischier. Everything is one track and the best is yet to come.