New Jersey Devils: 3 Options To Replace Nico Hischier For Now

Jack Hughes #86 and Nico Hischier #13 of the New Jersey Devils (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Jack Hughes #86 and Nico Hischier #13 of the New Jersey Devils (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Travis Zajac – New Jersey Devils (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Travis Zajac Takes Back His Spot

Nico Hischier has been the team’s number-one center since his rookie season. He took over that role because the Devils’ number-one center got injured before the season. This sounds familiar, right? Zajac tore his pectoral muscle before the 2017-18 season and was going to miss the first few months of the season. He never got back his top center position that he held for the better part of a decade.

Now, the shoe is on the other foot, and Ruff might go with the veteran to lock down the position until Hischier comes back. That makes a lot more sense if the goal is to allow Hughes to build chemistry this season. He needs to spend some time with the same linemates, and if he drops to the second line a week or two into the season, then it might throw him off.

Instead, the Devils could go to a reliable source of production in Zajac. He has nowhere near the offensive upside that Hischier or Hughes has, but he will play great defense and he can still get 40 points even at his age. Zajac might be motivated to show he still has something left in the tank as he goes into a contract year. That could push him to score more, especially if he’s paired with Kyle Palmieri and Johnsson.