NEWARK, N.J. — As Nico Hischier is discovering, being taken No. 1 in the NHL Draft has its perks.
Since being selected by the New Jersey Devils with the top pick Friday night, Hischier has flown from Chicago to New Jersey, watched the New York Red Bulls play a MLS game and gone to a New York Yankees game.
And that was just Saturday and Sunday.
The Swiss centre did a radio show Monday morning, met Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, visited a famous city deli to eat a new sandwich named after him and held his first major press conference at the Prudential Center, the home of the Devils.
And if you are wondering about the 2017-18 season, general manager Ray Shero says the Devils are keeping a roster spot open for Hischier. No pressure.
At least that’s what Shero and coach John Hynes are telling the kid. There’s no pressure at all.
“It’s great,” Hischier said. “Obviously as the first pick you have some pressure, but to hear that guys that are close to you and from the organization say there is actually no pressure from them, it’s all that counts.”
Hischier plans to return to Switzerland soon and start training for next season. He has a Devils development camp on July 11.
When asked about his goals for next season, Hischier says make the team and go from there.
Hynes, who saw the Devils finish last in the 16-team Eastern Conference this past season, sees Hischier as a second-or-third line centre at the start of training camp. He expects to put at least one veteran on his line, adding that chemistry may determine Hischier’s linemates.
It’s a starting point.
Hynes said Hischier is competitive, skates well and knows the game. He can also play on the power play and kill penalties.
“We’re counting on him and planning on him to be a real important part of our team,” Hynes said.
Shero was quick to point out that the Devils are not expecting Hischier to put up monster numbers like Connor McDavid of Edmonton or Auston Matthews of Toronto, the last two top picks.
They were franchise makers as McDavid was just honoured as league MVP and Matthews led the Maple Leafs to the playoffs in his first season and was selected as the league’s rookie of the year.
“The expectation we have for Nico is to be himself and I will say it will make a difference,” Shero said.
Hischier had 38 goals and 86 points in 57 games with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this past season. He played the previous two seasons in the Swiss professional league.
.@nicohischier on being first Swiss player drafted No. 1 overall: “It means a lot to me. It’s an honor to make history."
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) June 26, 2017
Shero views him an unselfish player who has the abilitynh to make the other players on the ice better.
“He is not coming here to be the saviour,” said Shero, whose team won 28 of 82 games in 2016-17, and missed the playoffs the past five seasons.
Shero added it is unfair to put pressure on an 18-year-old to make a major difference in the Devils next season, joking he can’t even get his 19-year-old son to respond to the pressure of taking out the garbage at home.
“I know what I can do, but I still know I have to work hard for that,” said Hischier, who does not think he will have a hard time adjusting from living in Switzerland and Halifax to live in the New York City metropolitan area.
And if he did, Hynes offered him a solution.
“You can stay at my house and take out the trash,” he quipped.
NOTES: Hischier visited Hobby’s Delicatessen and Restaurant a couple of blocks from the Prudential Center and ate the new item on the menu: “The New Nico 1. It’s grilled chicken, authentic Swiss cheese, red Jersey tomatoes with lettuce, onions, honey mustard and mayo on roll.