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Unless you have been living under a rock for the past two and a half months it’s known that the New Jersey Devils will have a decision to make regarding their 2017 first round pick Nico Hischier. Since there’s no guarantee he’ll even make the opening roster, it all depends on how well he plays during the preseason. For the sake of the article, let’s say he makes the team no questions asked. That would only leave the question of what line he is starting on.
Let’s look at a few of the previous first overall picks, and where they started during their rookie seasons.
Head Coach Mike Babcock announced right before the 2016-17 season began that his number one overall pick made the team as a third line center. Babcock left it up to how Matthews played to determine where he goes from there. I think any hockey fan knows how that ended up.
One of the leagues best players now and he’s only 20-years old. He didn’t even start on the first line of the Oilers in his rookie season. So please don’t take Hischier starting on the first line for granted. I’ll be genuinely surprised and slightly disappointed if coach Hynes decides that an 18-year old belongs on the first line more than a seasoned veteran like Travis Zajac.
Patrick Roy had these line combinations figured out from the moment the 2013 draft ended. Once again, another number one overall starting his career on the third line.
These are the three most recent forwards that were drafted number one overall. None of them started on the first line and only one of them started higher than line three. You can form your own opinion of where you think Hischier should start the season. Bearing any changes, here’s the current center depth chart.
Take a look at the last article I wrote about Nico Hischier and whether or not the max contract he signed is worth it. I mention how he needs to work on building a little weight for his size. Having said that, this is only about him making the team.
After reviewing the depth chart and from what I saw out of him at development camp, I have reached a decision.
Nico Hischier- Third Line Center
I believe that our prized draft pick will start out on the third line and much like Auston Matthews, his rise or fall in the lineup will depend on how he plays throughout the season. I also predict before the regular season concludes that he will be our second line center as well. It remains to be seen whether those projections come to fruition, the sky is certainly the limit for the 18-year old Swiss prodigy.