Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Nico Scores in Devils Preseason Opener

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Nico Scores in Devils Preseason Opener

Article excerpt

NEWARK - For the Devils, this was a glimpse into their future.

And it included a chant of "Nico Hischier" from the crowd of 6,310 at Prudential Center after the No. 1 overall pick in this June's draft scored the final goal of a 4-1 win over the Capitals in the preseason opener on Monday night.

Both it wasn't just Hischier that is bringing some optimism to a franchise that's missed the playoffs for five straight seasons. Will Butcher, a coveted college free agent this summer signed after winning the Hobey Baker Award at the University of Denver, also dressed for the game.

The Devils can only hope that the two offensive prodigies form a successful core for the rebuilding franchise, which finished last in the Eastern Conference with 183 goals last season.

"It'll be exciting to see them play," said veteran right wing Kyle Palmieri, who exited the penalty box and gave the Devils a 3-1 lead with 21.5 seconds left in the second period. "To see them evolve. Coming from the NCAA, or juniors, it's a little bit of a jump."

The Swiss-born Hischier, 18, scored an unassisted goal at 15:46 of the third period, getting to the crease and using his superior hand-eye coordination to backhand a shot past Vitek Vaneck.

Hischier, gained confidence carrying the puck as the game progressed, drew a hooking penalty against Damien Riat at 16:00 of the second, then an interference call on Lars Eller 29 seconds later.

Butcher, 22, seeing ample time on the power play, showed a willingness to shoot, though he was also beaten to the crease by Nathan Walker, who knocked in a rebound for a 1-0 lead at 4:26 of the first period.

Hischier centered fellow first-round pick John Quenneville, 21, the 30th overall pick in 2014, and veteran Jimmy Hayes, with the Devils on a Professional Tryout Offer. A good preseason could make him a candidate to center the top line with No. 1 center Travis Zajac sidelined four to six months. Ex-Capital Marcus Johansson was between Palmieri and Taylor Hall on Monday night. …

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