Nico Hischier Shows the Impact of a True Captain

The title of Captain is something that is prestigious to the player it is assigned to. That player may be the team's best player, or the heart and soul of that team. For Nico Hischier, it is more than that.

New Jersey Devils v Columbus Blue Jackets
New Jersey Devils v Columbus Blue Jackets / Jason Mowry/GettyImages

The title of captain in the NHL is something that is prestigious to the player it is assigned to. That player may be the team's best player or the heart and soul of that team. For Nico Hischier and the New Jersey Devils, it's more than that.

The Devils drafted Nico Hischier first overall in 2017, the first of two first-overall picks the team would have in a two-year span. The great “Nico vs. Nolan” debate circled around the draft that summer, as New Jersey was predicted to draft a franchise player in Nico Hischier or Nolan Patrick. Luckily for the Devils, Hischier was the choice at number one.

From the start, Hischier showed nothing but poise as a young player. The state of New Jersey welcomed him as a 17-year-old. Hobby’s Deli in Newark, NJ even gave Nico his very own sandwich and used this to provide a meet-and-greet with the fans. 

Hischier and Devils fans instantly connected from the moment he was drafted. It was well known for the fans that whoever the team drafted at number one would change their franchise. It was the team’s first-ever number-one overall pick, and the pressure of getting a game-changing player was higher than ever. The team had just finished another poor season and was looking to change its direction. Selecting Hischier proved that the team was ready to start building around young players and solidify their two-way play style as a team.

During Hischier’s early years with the Devils, the team only made the playoffs one time, which was Nico’s rookie season. He played in all 82 regular season games, showing that he was dedicated to his play, even as a rookie. The team lost in the first round that year, but there were high hopes for Hischier going into the following season.

Throughout his tenure with the team before he was named Captain, Hischier was privileged to see former Devil Andy Greene, be the teams captain. Andy Greene led by example with his stay-at-home defensive work and was a team leader for many years. In a letter to Greene for his retirement, Hischier writes, “The work, care, and dedication you put into this team: that is what great captains do.”

That’s exactly what Hischier did. He was named the new captain of the Devils February 20th 2021, with so much to prove to the team and the fans. Hischier was considered the face of the franchise until the arrival of Jack Hughes, who became Nico’s counterpart in the faces of the franchise. Hischier’s dominant two-way playing style speaks more volumes than it shows during games, which earned him the right to be the team's next captain.

So, just how valuable is a captain? In Hischier’s case, it is more than just talent. Nico has been with the franchise for years and has been through the growing pains that this team has had since he arrived. His on-ice performance is stellar, and his poise as a player is simple. He does all the right things. He may not be the flashiest player or put up 100-point seasons, but he does all the little things right.

Hischier is valuable because of who he is as a person and a player. He is the type of player that anyone would want on their team. For the Devils, Hischier’s presence is incredibly powerful every time he steps onto the ice. He lifts his teammates up while displaying simple and effective play night in and night out. The value of Nico Hischier as a captain is not about the stats he puts up but how he carries himself as a person and a player, which is far more valuable than any other statistic.