Nico Hischier knows what it's like to be the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft and said he feels he'll help New Jersey Devils teammate and fellow top pick Jack Hughes when training camp begins.
"I'm going to help Jack as best as I can because I've been there as well," Hischier, the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, told Le Matin in Switzerland. "I am very happy to welcome him and to have a young player as talented as him on our team."
Hughes went No. 1 in the 2019 NHL Draft.
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Hischier said he remembers how beneficial it was as a rookie in 2017-18 to have forward Taylor Hall, selected No. 1 in the 2010 NHL Draft by the Edmonton Oilers, to talk to about the pressure associated with being the top pick.
Hughes led the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team with 112 points (34 goals, 78 assists) in 50 games last season, and his 228 points (74 goals, 154 assists) in two seasons with the NTDP set a program record. The 18-year-old center is expected to become the first NTDP player to go directly from the draft to playing in the NHL.
Hischier, who has been training in Switzerland in the offseason, had 52 points (20 goals, 32 assists) in 82 games as a rookie in 2017-18. He began that season as the third-line center but was quickly promoted to the top line with Hall and Kyle Palmieri and helped the Devils qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in six seasons.
Hughes could begin the season as the No. 2 or No. 3 center.
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"To win you have to have a 1A and a 1B (at center)," Hughes said in June. "No team has won with just one very good center. (Center) Travis Zajac has been a great player in the League for a long time and I think the Devils are in a really good spot. In the NHL, whoever I play with will be a really good player."
Hischier said he is excited by the offseason moves by the Devils, who finished 29th in the NHL standings (31-41-10) last season and missed the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons. In addition to drafting Hughes, New Jersey acquired defenseman P.K. Subban in a trade with the Nashville Predators on June 22, signed right wing Wayne Simmonds to a one year, $5 million contract July 1, and acquired forward Nikita Gusev in a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights on July 29.
"I'm looking forward to the season," Hischier told the newspaper. "It's really motivating for me, to see what players have been added to the Devils. I think everyone in the locker room is looking forward to next season. Our GM, Ray Shero, is really very skilled and we all have a lot of confidence in how he builds our team."