Nico Hischier woke up on the morning of July 29 in Switzerland and saw the good news.
The Devils, his team, had landed the best player on the free agent market after signing defenseman Dougie Hamilton to a 7-year, $63-million contract. The deal became official well after 1 o'clock in the morning in Swiss time.
"I woke up, saw the news. It was great," Hischier told the Speak of the Devils podcast. "I texted (Hamilton) and welcomed him to New Jersey. He's going to be a big part of our group. Seeing him signing that deal long term means he's onboard. He believes what we're building here. That's good to see that such a player trusts us and trusts the process. I was really excited about the news. He will help us."
Hischier, 22, knows how the Hamilton signing changes the dynamic for the Devils. His addition, along with a few other key off-season acquisitions like blueliner Ryan Graves and goaltender Jonathan Bernier, give the Devils a much-improved team heading into the 2021-22 season.
"With new guys coming in, we're a good team," Hischier said. "We're a team that competes hard. We just have to know that we have to bring a competitive game every night, if not, it's going to be really hard. We'll do that and try to make sure we do that. If everybody is on the same page and does his job, we can be a dangerous team.
"We don't have any pressure so I feel we can surprise some people."
When pressed on why he thinks the Devils will be better in the upcoming season from the previous year, Hischier pointed to one key element.
"We're a really fast team. I think that's one of our strengths, too," Hischier said. "We've got a lot of good skaters. We want to play that way. We will be able to surprise some teams. We have to make sure it's consistent and we bring all the things that we're good at."
Here are some other topics the Devils captain discussed on the podcast…
- His role as captain
- Lessons from an injury-riddled 2020-21 season
- The Jersey Shore
- The current Devils team
- Summer in Switzerland
- His love of cheese, fondu and Swiss meals
- His favorite "cheat snack"