NEWARK, NJ—Nico Hischier, 18, the first overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, closed a three-year, entry level deal with the New Jersey Devils on Saturday, July 17. Hischier’s contract is capped at an average annual value (AAV) of $925,000, the maximum for salary and performance bonuses.
The Naters, Switzerland-born center is the only Swiss player in NHL history to be selected first overall. This year was the first time the Devils have been issued the number one selection in team history. On the second day of the draft, Hischier received the E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence for “best exemplifying the commitment to excellence through strength and character, competitiveness and athleticism” (as defined by NHL.com).
Last season, his first in North America, Hischier (who is six feet one inch and weighs 176 pounds) played for the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL. Hischier exceeded all league rookies with 86 points (38 goals and 48 assists) in 57 regular-season games. In six playoff matches, he collected an additional three goals and four assists. Hischier was also appointed CHL and QMJHL Rookie of the Year, QMJHL Offensive Rookie of the Year, admitted to the QMJHL All-Rookie Team, and presented with the Mike Bossy Trophy as the QMJHL’s Best Professional Prospect.
Back in Switzerland, Hischier played for Bern U20 of the Elite Jr. A from 2014-2016, and both SC Bern (National League A) and EHC Visp (National League B) in 2015-2016. He has embodied his home country internationally, including in the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championships in Montreal & Toronto, leading with seven points.
At the Devils development camp last week, Hischier exuded a very down-to-earth attitude and explained that he knew nothing in life worth having comes easy.
“The coaching staff has said that in order to be a pro, you have to come to practice and not just say, ‘It’s just a practice.’ You come to the ice rink to become a better hockey player. You have to know what you are going to do and not just go through the drills and not just think about what’s going to help you in the game,” Hischier told reporters.
Ray Shero, the Devils General Manager, gave his thoughts on Hischier, who will wear the number 13 this coming season:
“He’s been everything I had hoped he would be; I know this isn’t an evaluation but certainly his on-ice skill set is really fun to watch. He’s a really respectful kid and the way he carries himself I think is really nice to see and he has interacted well with the younger players and the veterans that came in. That’s his upbringing, but it’s been a great learning week for him and it’s been nice to see the type of person he is as well.”