The 2017 Draft’s 1st-overall pick, Nico Hischier, has signed a 3-year entry level contract with the New Jersey Devils, per AP’s Stephen Whyno. The contract is worth $950,000 and includes signing bonuses. It was also announced that he will wear #13 in New Jersey, after his hockey idol Pavel Datsyuk.
Hischier is a dynamic forward, with amazing playmaking abilities. Playing for Halifax last season, he put up 38 goals and 86 points through 57 games. His phenomenal play in the World Junior Championship captured the attention of the hockey world and likely propelled him over the edge in consideration for top prospect of the class. As the highest ranked Swiss player ever drafted, expectations will be high for Hischier from the start. New Jersey had an exceptionally anemic offense last season, and will need to slot him as a top-six center immediately. Hischier already has the hockey IQ and the natural skill to be a force in the league, and will be an early favorite among Calder predictions. That said, he is less physically well-rounded than the #2 pick of the draft, Philadelphia’s Nolan Patrick. He will need to fill out his 6’1 frame and train properly in order to get a solid beginning in October.
It should be an interesting camp for Hischier, as he will also need to find linemates with whom he can gel. Taylor Hall is a solid bet, as he can blitz defenses with his speed and tenacity, and is a former #1 overall pick himself. Marcus Johansson or Kyle Palmieri could slot in on his right wing, and it’s unclear as to where Adam Henrique will fit. Hischier would likely thrive best beside a pure finisher, but the Devils don’t really have that. Chemistry in the absence of that sniper will be important to his success. Still, Hischier will almost certainly put up respectable numbers and grow as his rookie season comes along. He can score quite easily with the hard, heavy shot he possesses – and Hischier never showed a reluctance to fire the biscuit either. He averaged over 4 shots a game for Halifax.
At $950,000, Hischier’s cap hit is the highest allowable for an entry-level contract. Consequently, his bonuses will be a key component in determining his actual pay. The Devils are no where near a cap or contract crunch, as this contract only puts them at a puny 34 in the entire organization.