NEWARK, NJ — The New Jersey Devils franchise has never had the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL Draft, but Nico Hischier became the Devils’ and NHL’s first pick in this year's draft this week when he was welcomed by the city of Newark and introduced to the media in a press conference at Prudential Center.
The day began at Newark City Hall and concluded with a media gathering. While getting a sandwich named after him in between, Hischier was front and center in the New York-New Jersey sports world on Monday.
“It’s just impressive," he said. "I mean, it’s my first time here in New Jersey, here in New York and to see all those things, it’s just impressive. I’m really happy to be here with my family and to join this amazing team.”
For the Switzerland native, visiting New Jersey for the first time came with plenty of perks during the eventful day.
“It is different [than Switzerland], it’s huge,” Hischier said. “I mean I got my own sandwich now, so it’s pretty fun here and they welcome me really nice. I like it so far.”
The sandwich he got was created and named in his honor at Hobby’s Delicatessen in Newark, where he stopped by and ate his new namesake before heading to Prudential Center. As cameras rolled and fans came flocking, Hischier could not wipe the smile from his face.
On the hockey side of things, the team he will be joining has been constructed by Devils General Manager (GM) Ray Shero, who joined the 18 year old on the podium at “The Rock” on Monday. Ultimately, it was Shero’s decision to draft Hischier as the No. 1 pick on June 23.
“It was important to us to draft the player that we thought for our organization had the skill set that we might need most. We’re happy with Nico,” the third-year GM said. “Obviously it’s certainly a heck of a piece that certainly a few months ago, after the season, we thought we had a chance to get.”
The Devils’ selection of Hischier came as a surprise to some, as Hischier and fellow center Nolan Patrick were seen as the likely first two picks entering the NHL Entry Draft last Friday.
“I knew that I could [get drafted No. 1, but at the end it was surprising for me," said Hischier. "I didn’t know anything, but I’m pretty happy right now. I’m really, really happy and excited to join such a great team.”
Devils fans can expect to see a hard-working center who plays at a fast pace for years to come. This summer will be essential for Hischier, who will work hard to become an immediate part of this season’s Devils squad.
“I really am a two-way center—so I really need my defense to be first and create some offense,” said Hischier. “I really just want to win every game, so I never give up.”