The New Jersey Devils need to go all hands on deck with their captainship.
When current general manager Tom Fitzgerald traded Blake Coleman, Andy Greene, and (admittedly to a lesser extent) Wayne Simmonds for a collection of picks and prospects headlined by Nolan Foote and Janne Kuokkanen, it only further signified a changing of the guard with Nico Hischier now the focal point of a rebuild.
So, if you don’t mind me asking, why isn’t Nico Hischier the New Jersey Devils’ captain?
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Well, technically, no one is the Devils’ captain – not at the moment anyway – but that needs to change before the D-Men take the ice for their opening night contest against their new divisional foes, the Boston Bruins, on January 14th.
Again, it makes sense. Hischier has been with the team since going first overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, has scored 135 points in 209 career games, and is under contract through the 2026-27 season. He’s a consistent shooter, a savvy passer, and by all accounts a great young player worthy of being the crown jewel of a burgeoning young roster.
Fun fact: Hischier is the only player the Devils currently have under contract for the 2023-24 season, let alone the 2026-27 season.
For what it’s worth, his teammates appear completely on board with Hischier earning the honors, as certified old man center Travis Zajac told media (as per Devils play-by-play man Steve Cangialosi), “We have guys like Nico and Palms ready to take that role. I don’t think anything like the captaincy would trade the way I go about my business.”
Look, I get the idea of giving Kyle Palmieri the captaincy, I really do. He’s a local product, he’s spent half a decade in a red, black, white, and soon-to-be reverse retro green jersey, and he is unarguably the team’s most consistent player. Then again, his contract expires at the end of the season, and until he re-ups, it feels like a testy call to give him the captaincy.
The Devils surely don’t want this to turn into another Andy Greene situation where we’re speculating about Hischier getting the captaincy again this time(ish) next year.
Unless, of course, Jack Hughes steps up with the Devils’ best player out for the next few weeks with a leg injury and suddenly becomes the second coming of (vintage) Travis Zajac, it’s pretty clear that Hischier is, was, and will remain Jersey’s best
dancer skater until the team is able to land someone better – which honestly, would be pretty hard to do (save maybe Patrik Laine, who is a longshot to land in the Garden State).
No, to really start the 2020-21 season off on the right
foot skate, Nico Hischier needs to triumphantly return to the ice – hopefully on opening night – with a C embezzled on his chest like Gandalf the White at the end of The Two Towers – signifying a bright new era of New Jersey Devils hockey for years to come.