Devils Hold Red vs. White Scrimmage; Ink Hischier to ELC

It was a busy day today as the Devils’ 2017 Developmental Camp came to an end. First, they held a scrimmage between two teams of prospects. Then, 2017’s first overall draft pick, Nico Hischier – who put in a good showing in the scrimmage – was signed to his entry level contract.

First, the scrimmage. The event was held at the RWJ-Barnabas Health Hockey House and attracted a standing room only crowd. The prospects were split into two teams, one wearing the red home jerseys (designated the home team) and the other in the road whites.

The game got underway at 12 noon with a quick ten minute warmup. Just before the opening faceoff, Binghamton Devils head coach Rick Kowalsky made a short speech welcoming the fans and mentioning how important the players present were to the future of the Devils organization.

With that, the game began. The game was split into two 25-minute periods with a fifteen minute intermission in between where the ice was resurfaced. There was a running clock with faceoffs occurring when the puck was frozen or play was whistled dead. In the final five minutes of the game, the clock would stop on whistles and breaks in play. There would be penalty shots in lieu of serving penalties in the event of an infraction. Those were not necessary as the game was played predictably clean.

The starting goaltenders were Mackenzie Blackwood for the red team and Ken Appleby for the white team. Evan Cormier came in in the second for the reds while Gilles Senn began for the whites in the second frame.

John Qunneville and Brandon Gignac did not compete due to what the team is calling lower body issues. They were kept out for precautionary reasons. Brandon Baddock had to miss due to a family event, the roster sheet said.

Nico Hischier (who was on the red team) brought fans out of their seats early on what seemed to be a break in on goal that was whistled offside. In the end, though, it was the white team that came out victorious, 6-5 after a second period surge by the red team fell just short. Team red took the shots on goal with 24 to 16 in that department. Although Nico did finish the scrimmage with a goal and an assist.

Following the game, a shootout was held with each player from each team getting to showcase their skills one-on-one with the goalies. Forward Austin Cangelosi wowed the crowd when he picked the puck up with his stick, lacrosse-style, and tried to bat it into the net. He did not score, but the crowd loved it.

It was a great day for the Devils all around. An exciting scrimmage between some of their best prospects and then, afterwards, the signing of their prized number one pick in the draft.

In a press release put out by the Devils, they stated that general manager Ray Shero announced today that the team came to terms with Hischier on his maximum three-year entry level contract. The contract, valued at an annual average value of $925,000 as well as performance bonuses, brings Hischier into the Devils’ fold.

The press release also noted that during the second day of this year’s NHL Draft in Chicago’s United Center, he received the EJ McGuire Award of Excellence. This award “is given to the candidate who best exemplifies the committment to excellence through strength and character, competitiveness and athleticism.”

In addition, it was announced that Hischier will become just the second Devils player to wear number 13. The number became avaiable last month when Michael Cammalleri (the first Devil to wear the number previously banned under the Lou Lamoriello regime) had his contract bought out and signed with the Los Angeles Kings.

Devils Take Hischier With Top Pick in Draft

The Devils have made their choice for the first overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. They went with Nico Hischier, the 6-foot, 1-inch, 178-pound center from the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The Swiss-born player becomes the highest ever draft pick from that nation, surpassing Nino Niederreiter – who was taken fifth overall by the Islanders in 2010.

The choice for top pick was down to two players, Hischier and Brandon Wheat Kings center Nolan Patrick (who went second overall to the Philadelphia Flyers, likely the easiest pick in this year’s draft).

According to an article by Mike Morreale on, Devils general manager Ray Shero did not feel the pick was easy, but does think Hischier “is the player New Jersey needs down the middle for the foreseeable future.”

For Hischier’s part, he is excited to be the number one overall pick and to be in New Jersey. He told Morreale “Just hearing my name was just unbelievable; I can’t find words for this. I hugged my mom first and she started to cry. It’s really special to wear this Devils jersey and it looks great. It probably won’t sink in until after I get a good sleep.”

Morreale mentions that Adam Henrique was the only Devil “center to score at least 30 goals in any of the past eight seasons, he scored 30 in 2015-16.” Morreale says that “Hischier’s elite skill and hockey sense, combined with a compete level that allows him to be effective in any style of game, are reasons Shero made the decision to select him.”

One interesting fact that Morreale also gives in his piece is that “HIschier has been mentored by two coaches with NHL experience.” Guy Boucher (most recently of the Ottawa Senators) was his coach with Bern in Switzerland’s top pro league (National League A) and Andre Tourigny (who has spent time as an assistant in the NHL with Colorado and San Jose)coached him in Halifax this past season.

The native of Naters, Switzerland should slot right into the Devils’ lineup this coming season. In last year’s QMJHL season, he won the Michael Bossy Trophy as the Best Professional Prospect and the Michel Bergeron Trophy as the Offensive Rookie of the Year) – this info comes from Morreale’s article.

Morreale’s article mentions that the Halifax program is a good one. The Mooseheads have produced five picks in the top ten of the Draft in the last five years: Nathan MacKinnon (who went first overall to the Colorado Avalanche in 2013), Jonathan Drouin (who went number three overall to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2013), Nikolaj Ehlers (number nine overall to the Winnipeg Jets in 2014) and Timo Meier (number nine to the San Jose Sharks in 2015).

Devils fan reactions seemed to be pretty unanimous in favor of Hischier at the team draft party held tonight in conjunction with the Draft. Unlike with the new jerseys, which have gotten a mixed reaction at best, this one seems like a good choice that fans like.

While there might still be some holdouts who wanted Patrick, most seemed to be fine with Shero and Director of Amateur Scouting Paul Castron’s decision. Of course, in this strange draft year, Patrick is now immediately the enemy by going to Philly.

Hopefully, though, they both have great NHL careers and the best of luck to them as they embark on this part of their hockey lives.

The 2017 NHL Entry Draft continues tomorrow from the United Center in Chicago.