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Nico Hischier 'will make a difference,' Devils GM says

Ray Shero isn't putting pressure on No. 1 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Nico Hischier, chosen No. 1 by the New Jersey Devils at the 2017 NHL Draft presented by adidas on Friday, is determined to be with the Devils all season.

Devils general manager Ray Shero gave his top prospect a vote of confidence when he and coach John Hynes introduced the 18-year-old center during a press conference at Prudential Center on Monday.

"There's a spot for him [on our team] and we'll go from there. We aren't putting the pressure on Nico to be [Connor] McDavid or Auston [Matthews] because those draft classes weren't the norm," Shero said, referencing the No. 1 picks in the previous two drafts. "I'll say that he'll make a difference but how quickly will be up to his development path. He has the type of instincts and skill set that we don't have in our organization. He's always had the ability to make players around him better, he's unselfish, and good defensively.

"We're excited and it's a heck of a piece to our team we never thought we'd have a chance to get at the end of the season (before winning the NHL Draft Lottery on April 29)."

Video: Nico Hischier on being selected first overall

Shero said he did not consider trading the No. 1 pick for more assets.

"In the end, I told (director of amateur scouting) Paul Castron that whatever was going to come our way, I didn't want to leave the draft without Nico Hischier," Shero said. "That became more apparent to me in the end. To me there was nothing else that made any sense that would guarantee that Nico would be on our team."

Hynes is looking forward to having Hischier in development camp beginning July 10. He scored 86 points (38 goals, 48 assists) in 57 games for Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and was named Canadian Hockey League rookie of the year this season, his first in North America.

"We like how he competes on the puck and his speed, skill set and hockey sense are all at an NHL level," Hynes said. "There are some things he'll need to do this summer physically and mentally to prepare himself for the NHL season, but we've seen a lot of top picks become high impact players and we feel Nico has those abilities. We're counting and planning on him to be a really important part of our team.

"We think he's going to fit in well with his personality and style of play and help us move in the right direction."

Video: NHL Tonight takes a look at the future of the Devils

Hischier (6-foot-1, 178 pounds) understands nothing is guaranteed. He could either remain in the NHL, return to Halifax or play in Switzerland in 2017-18. He is not eligible to play in the American Hockey League.

"I know what I can do but I still have to work hard for that and earn a spot on the team so I'm working hard in the summer; working to achieve that goal," Hischier said. 

Hischier has been living the dream of every aspiring hockey player the past three days. After becoming the highest-drafted Switzerland-born player in history at the 2017 draft in Chicago, he's been on a whirlwind tour of the New York metropolitan area.

He was joined on the tour by his father, Rino, mother, Katja, sister, Nina, and girlfriend, Lorena. His brother, Luca, had to return to Switzerland to prepare for the hockey season at Bern in Switzerland's top league.

"We hoped for an organization that cared for Nico, trusted in Nico and one that would improve him into a better hockey player and person," Rino Hischier said. "I think, being here and meeting with everyone, it was a great spot for Nico."

Video: Nico Hischier reacts to being picked 1st overall

The visit included a visit to Newark deli Hobby's on Monday to enjoy a sandwich named in his honor. The Nico No. 1, which Hischier helped create, consists of grilled chicken, Finlandia Swiss cheese, Jersey tomatoes and lettuce, onion, honey mustard and mayonnaise on a roll.

On Saturday, Hischier and his family flew to Newark to see Prudential Center before taking in a Major League Soccer game between the New York Red Bulls and rival New York City FC in Harrison, New Jersey. 

On Sunday, he was off to Yankee Stadium in New York to watch the New York Yankees play the Texas Rangers, marking the first time he witnessed a baseball game in person. He wore a Yankees jersey and Devils cap and met Yankees GM Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi before the game.

Hischier also had dinner with Devils right wing Kyle Palmieri and recently retired forward Patrik Elias over the weekend.

"This was my first time in New Jersey and New York," Hischier said. "I'm happy to be here with my family and to join this amazing team. I have my own sandwich now, so it's a lot of fun. Everyone has really welcomed me and I'm very thankful."

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