New Jersey Devils: 5 Most Important Players When They Return To The Ice

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 19: Jack Hughes #86 of the New Jersey Devils celebrates his second goal of the second period at 8:38 against Alexandar Georgiev #40 of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on January 19, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 19: Jack Hughes #86 of the New Jersey Devils celebrates his second goal of the second period at 8:38 against Alexandar Georgiev #40 of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on January 19, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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New Jersey Devils
New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier (13): (Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports) /

3. Nico Hischier

Nico Hischier is finally expected to return from his lower-body injury when the team returns from the COVID-19 pause. Hischier is in a year that should see major growth. He’s 22 years old, plays on a roster that should build towards his strengths, and he might even be named captain once the team returns.

Hischier has a very important role on this team. With Hughes starting his breakout this season, now Hischier has to fix the middle six alongside Travis Zajac. Those two centers need to get the wingers scoring better than Pavel Zacha and Yegor Sharangovich were able to.

Hischier is very qualified to get the best out of his wingers. He will likely start his season with Palmieri and Gusev on his wing. Both those players have struggled mightily to start. The Devils are trying to figure out if it’s worth it to re-sign either or both of them since they are free agents at the end of this season. If they have kept their goalless streak much longer, the Devils will have to make major changes to their lineups.

That makes Hischier’s role even more important than past seasons. In other seasons, the Devils only expected Hischier to enhance Palmieri and whoever else was on his wing. Then, last season, they started putting players like Hughes and Miles Wood on his wing to get them going. This used to be Zajac’s role, but it became clear where the direction of the team was going. Hischier is asked to get the most out of Devils veterans who have started the season on the wrong foot.