Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Hischier Is Not the Safer Pick, but the One with More Upside

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Hischier Is Not the Safer Pick, but the One with More Upside

Article excerpt

The Devils didn't necessarily take the safer pick.

Instead, general manager Ray Shero is betting - prudently, we believe - that Nico Hischier has a higher upside than Nolan Patrick.

Nico or Nolan was a very serious debate leading up to the first round of the NHL Draft on Friday night at United Center in Chicago. Both are 18-year-old centers, though Hischier may project more as a left wing in the NHL. Both will likely make the jump directly from junior hockey to the NHL.

Both will help their new teams - Patrick went No. 2 to the Flyers, which just puts another twist into the Nico or Nolan storyline - but the question Shero and his fellow Devils' brass needed to answer was who would help the rebuilding organization the most.

Patrick was dubbed the more complete player - now - of the two, a two-way center with impressive size at 6-foot-2, 199 pounds. But the 6-foot-1, 179-pound Hischier is the more dynamic player of the two, the faster skater, which certain fits into the up-tempo style that Shero and coach John Hynes crave. Hischier is also a skilled playmaker who creates opportunities for himself.

The Devils need to develop a No. 1 center. But Patrick is not guaranteed to become that in the NHL.

Hischier seems destined to become a very productive top-six forward. If he does remain a center, him and Taylor Hall could be a lethal combination, both for their speed and playmaking abilities.

Two likely tipping points in the Nico vs. Nolan debate.

First, Hischier, though he's known for his dynamic offensive potential, is no defensive slouch and has been praised for his coaches for understanding the importance of playing a 200-foot game and for putting in the work to develop himself as a solid two-way player.

In fact, that was the first thing Hischier mentioned when asked about his game.

"Playing a two-way game," Hischier said on a conference call when asked what he could bring to the Devils. "I really want to do my defense first and then create offense."

Second, though Patrick seemed to have allayed concerns about his past injuries while at the NHL Scouting Combine, the fact is that injury history is there. Sports hernia surgery last offseason, a previous shoulder problem. …

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