New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier was seen skating in practice with the team on Monday morning, likely meaning that a return to the lineup is approaching.
Hischier, 24, has been out for the past three and a half weeks with an upper-body injury that he sustained from a blindside hit from Buffalo Sabres defenseman Connor Clifton during the Devils’ October 27th game against the Sabres. Clifton received a two-game suspension for the infraction, along with a match penalty in that game.
The Devils have struggled in Hischier’s absence, going 4-5-0 in nine games without their captain. However, they’ve been dealing with more than just Hischier’s injury as well, as Jack Hughes has been hurt for most of that time as well, and Timo Meier has recently missed the past couple of games.
Hischier was off to a bit of a slow start to the season, with just two goals in seven games before the injury. He’s coming off a career year where he had 31 goals and 49 assists for 80 points in 81 games, the first time he’d hit 30 goals, 40 assists, and 80 points in a season in his career. He’s established himself as one of the better play drivers in the league, with his 55.34% 5v5 expected goal share ranking 46th among forwards with 2000 minutes since 2021.
Hischier was the Devils’ first overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, and he’s spent the entirety of his seven-season NHL career in New Jersey. He’s currently in the fourth year of a seven-year contract with a $7.25 million cap hit, one that he signed as an extension in the final season of his entry-level contract in 2019.
The Devils will hope to get Hischier and Meier back in the lineup to help end their slump of four losses in the past five games against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday at 7 p.m. EST. They currently sit in sixth place in the Metropolitan Division with an 8-7-1 record, and are three points out of a playoff spot.