Follow me on Twitter @ToddCordell
There are so many reasons to be excited about Nico Hischier moving forward. Anyone capable of producing 50+ points as an 18/19-year-old rookie clearly has a future as bright as the sun but it's not just the numbers that are impressive, it's *how* he put them up.
Hischier was super efficient at 5v5 and, in that game state, tallied more points than Blake Wheeler, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jakub Voracek, John Tavares, Nicklas Backstrom, Sidney Crosby, Mark Scheifele and Tyler Seguin to name but a few.
Playing primarily with the league MVP helped, of course, but Hischier is just a kid and it's not like the others I mentioned didn't have a good cast of characters riding shotgun.
His rookie campaign was unanimously considered a big success – rightfully so – and that's with almost no power play production to boost his totals.
Just six (6) of his 52 points came on the power play. Six! Among 158 forwards who logged at least 150 minutes on the man advantage, only Alexander Wennberg, Nick Foligno, Bobby Ryan and Brandon Saad found the scoresheet fewer times.
Some might be concerned Hischier's not a good player in that game state. I would suggest shooting 3% and not having any of Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri, Marcus Johansson and/or Will Butcher with him on a remotely frequent basis had a lot more to do with his low totals than anything he did wrong.
Even if he was to spend more PP time with Drew Stafford than any other forward again, which obviously won't happen considering the Devils moved on from Stafford, I'd still bet on his power play totals going up next season. He'll inevitably have more puck luck, he should take another step forward individually, and his shooting ability will no longer be hindered by a wrist injury.
I think 65+ points is a reasonable expectation for him next season.
I really don't think Will Butcher received enough credit for how good he was in 2017-18. People will point out he didn't play much against top players and was given lots of offensive zone starts. That is absolutely true.
What I don't see mentioned often is that he shared the ice as much with Miles Wood as Taylor Hall and Brian Boyle as Nico Hischier; or that he spent nearly twice as much time with Ben Lovejoy than Damon Severson.
Despite that, he led Devils blueliners in 5v5 points, 5v5 points per 60, and almost every important on-ice metric.
Yes, he will have to play more minutes against better players in the top-4, however, he'll also be playing with better players. I think he'll be just fine.
Q&A on Hischier, Devils defense rankings, and more
One model projects the Devils to take a small step back in 2018-19
Devils sign Ty Smith to entry-level contract
On Taylor Hall and his chances of winning the Hart in consecutive years
On Miles Wood and his next contract
Devils sign Steven Santini to three-year extension
Nick Shore an ideal PTO target
On the Devils' defense and an optimal top-4
Power play dominance, and a little luck, behind Hall's big spike in production
The Devils should give Miles Wood an opportunity in the top-6
Damon Severson should benefit from John Moore's departure
Hynes might have found something in Coleman - Zajac - Noesen line