The New Jersey Devils currently have two of the best prospects in the NHL on their roster. Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes. Hischier was drafted with the first overall pick in 2017. Hughes was selected with the first overall pick in 2019. Both of these players are going to be Devils for years to come and have loads of potential. Hischier is coming off a solid season in 2019-20, while Hughes had a bit of a rough rookie year. But how will these young studs perform in 2021?
The Devils drafted Hischier from the Halifax Mooseheads in the 2017 NHL Draft. New Jersey had a big choice to make, choosing between him or Nolan Patrick, who was selected by Philadelphia with the second pick. The Swiss-born center looked solid in his rookie season and in his second season, showing he is the main piece for the Devils going forward. In the 2019-20 season, Hischier tallied 14 goals, 22 assists, and 36 total points in 58 games. Hischier also signed a 7-year contract extension with New Jersey in October of 2019. He is a main focal point of the Devils rebuilding stage and usually plays on the top line with Kyle Palmieri and Jesper Bratt.
Hischier is bound to succeed. Because of that, I believe that 2021 will be his best season yet. For his career, his highest point total was 52. He did this in his rookie year in 2017-18, and he played in a full 82 games. I think Hischier will shatter that total, and at least hit 65-70 points. He has shown that he can produce at a big level and that he can truly become one of the best centermen in the NHL. The potential that #13 possesses is through the roof and I can see him breaking out in 2021.
The Devils once again finished poorly in 2018-19 and ended up with their second first overall pick in the past three years. Again, this was another tough choice for the Devils to make. The American born Jack Hughes and the Finnish born winger Kaapo Kakko were candidates to be selected by the Devils. The Devils rolled with Jack Hughes and Devils fans were ecstatic to have one of the best young prospects from the United States drafted to their team. Kakko was selected with the second pick by the rival New York Rangers. Hughes had a bit of a rough time in his rookie year. The 19-year-old only totaled 21 points, 7 goals, and 4 assists in 61 games. The highlight of his rookie season was his two-point game vs the Ottawa Senators on December 29th, 2019, where he scored the overtime winner.
Do I think Hughes can improve from his rookie season? No question about it. Hughes has everything you need in today’s NHL. He has the speed, the quickness, and the shot. He just needs to get a little bigger and stronger and he will be an elite player for many years to come. I predict that Hughes will total about 40-50 points with 20 goals. New Head Coach Lindy Ruff likes to play a fast style of hockey. Hughes could succeed with this, it would utilize his speed and quickness. Hughes has all the attributes to succeed, he just has to put it all together.
Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes are still younger players. Both have lots of room to improve and to reach their full potential. Hischier and Hughes are the main focal points of the Devils franchise, and building around them would make them even better. I strongly believe they both will have breakout seasons with visible improvements to their game. This duo can be one of the best in the league, they just have to utilize their full potential.