Nico Hischier goes about his business quietly. He doesn't necessarily like to be the center of attention, he feels even less comfortable talking about his own stats, he is what you would call the ultimate team player. Perhaps even a quiet leader.
At just 21 years old and having just completed his third NHL season, Hischier's name carries a lot of weight around the Devils locker room. He is a player who lets his on-ice performance speak for itself and is an example for the next generation of Devils talent to follow.
After three years in the league, Nico has experienced a lot in the league. From a new contract, an All-Star appearance, and an unusual 21st birthday present, here are Three Things presented by Wawa.
1. HAPPY 21ST BIRTHDAY
On February 2, 2019 Nico had a letter stitched to his jersey for the first time. He was given an 'A' with Travis Zajac out of the lineup because of injury. It was temporary, just while Travis was out, but it was a nod of confidence. He scored two goals in that game against Montreal, including the overtime game-winner.
Less than a year later, on January 4th, 2020, the 'A' was less-than temporary. Nico was entered into a rotation with Kyle Palmieri to fill the alternate captain role left vacant with the Taylor Hall trade. The decision was announced on January 4th and from there-on out, took on a regular role as a team leader.
Nico turned 21 on January 4, the day he was handed the alternate role.
"I've always helped the team has success and that's not going to change," Hischier said after Hall was traded. "I'm still coming to the rink, trying to get better and trying to get the team better. I want to win here."
And players want to follow his lead.
"He's been more outspoken, and you can really hear the confidence in his voice," former teammate Wayne Simmonds said at the time. "The guys really listen and when you have a young leader like that on a young team, it resonates with the younger guys. They're not listening to older guys like myself bark all the time, so to have someone in kind of your age group that has that leadership mentality, it's a great thing for the team."
2. HE'S A STAR
This past season, Nico made his debut as an NHL All-Star. Hischier replaced Kyle Palmieri, who was initially headed to the All-Star Game, but Palmieri was out with an injury.
"Being able to represent my team down there, it's going to be fun," Hischier said. "It's kind of a dream come true. Growing up I always watched the All-Star Game, so it's pretty cool, I'm pretty excited about it."
Hischier certainly looked like he had fun, though his accuracy shooting at the Skills Competition was interrupted by some malfunctioning equipment. He made up for it in fine fashion, scoring two goals for the Metropolitan team in a 9-5 loss to the Atlantic in the actual All-Star Game.
"We're all competitive and trying to win," Hischier, who was replacing an injured Kyle Palmieri as the Devils representative, said after the game. "But it was fun, just the experience being out there with these guys."
3. A NEW GENERATION
When the Devils selected Nico 1st overall in 2017, I imagine this is the scenario they envisioned. A young leader, consistent player, worth investing in. And that's exactly how it has played out.
On October 18, 2019, the club announced a seven-year contract extension, just days into Hischier started his third NHL season. The deal locked in Hischier through to the 2026-27 NHL season.
''I like the direction the organization is going in, and the confidence they give me is all a player can ask for,'' Hischier said on the day he signed his extension. ''We have a young, exciting team, and I am driven to try my best to help the team succeed every day. I was really welcomed here from day one, and I have always felt that I wanted to be part of the Devils.''
In his first 209 NHL games, Hischier has 135 points, scoring 51 goals and 84 assists. He also has six game-winning goals, and hopefully many more to come.
AND ONE MORE THING...
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