The New Jersey Devils have had a great 2022-23 so far, with a number of players being recognized for their contributions. Jack Hughes is currently on pace to break both the Devils single season goals and points records. Jesper Bratt is having another strong offensive season in yet another contract year for him. Dougie Hamilton has surged back into being a true top pairing defender for the team. The team has had a number of contributions, both from individuals and as a whole group, that has led to their success.
Somewhat lost among all of the other individual accolades is the strong season coming from the team’s captain. Nico Hischier is continuing to grow off of a career year in 2021-22, and is on pace right now to exceed his totals from last season. Through the current all-star break, Hischier sits third on the team with 46 points in 48 games. His 21 goals are also good for second on the team right now behind the 33 of Jack Hughes.
While not as many people are pointing out Hischier’s season, I think it’s due to the fact that it’s not possibly record breaking. Yet with how versatile and consistent Nico has been, I think we need to be showing more love towards what he’s doing. While Jack is certainly putting up all-star numbers, one area where he isn’t is at the dot; While Hughes’ faceoff percentage is languishing in the low 30s, Hischier is buoying the Devils in the circle at 53.65%. Sure, it isn’t as high as Erik Haula or Michael McLeod’s percentage, but I’ll take the guy who is over 50% and gives the team a chance to score over the other two any day of the week.
Nico also has some pretty darn good advanced stats this season. His 54.8% Corsi/SAT percentage is leadership by example in terms of pushing play in the correct direction. He also has one of the highest expected goals for percentages of all regulars on the team (57.04%) further demonstrating just how well he has performed on the offensive side of the puck. Yet, Hischier’s value goes beyond offense, as he typically finds himself deployed on the team’s top penalty kill unit as well. His spot on the top power play is a no brainer when you look at the stats, but when you turn the games on and watch him, you understand why he’s on the top PK as well. Nico is the Devils’ human Swiss Army Knife - he’s useful in any situation.
Again, there’s a lot to be positive about with the Devils this season, but I don’t think Hischier is getting enough love for just how much he’s doing for the Devils. While I feel they would still be successful this season if he was not with them, I don’t think the team would be as high in the standings. Nico is the Devils’ captain for a reason: no matter what situation they find themselves in, he’s out on the ice pushing them towards the results we want. Between that and him helping to lead the way on the scoresheet, I think now is a good time to give his game the attention it deserves.
Now I’d like to hear your thoughts on the season Nico Hischier is having; are we underappreciating his contributions? Is he appreciated but just not spoken about due to the other narratives surrounding the Devils this season? Will he gets more attention as the season continues on, especially if he sets new career highs again? Leave any and all comments below and thanks as always for reading!