2017 NHL Draft

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Hischier replaces Palmieri as Devils’ All-Star Game rep

Nico Hischier replaced Kyle Palmieri as the New Jersey Devils’ representative for the 2020 NHL All-Star Game. (Palmieri suffered an injury blocking a shot during the Devils’ upset win over the Lightning on Sunday.)

This marks the first All-Star Game appearance for Hischier, 21, the first pick of the 2017 NHL Draft.

There might be a temptation to throw Hischier in with the Devils’ many problems. After all, the Devils lucked into two top overall picks (with Jack Hughes being the latest from 2019), made strong trades including landing Taylor Hall, yet couldn’t get it done.

Don’t blame Hischier, though.

The Swiss-born center ranks among the Devils’ brightest spots — alongside Palmieri, honestly. The young forward brings plenty to the table while rarely taking anything away. Consider his heatmap from Hockey Viz as just one illustration of Hischier’s many strengths:

If standard offensive stats work better for you, Hischier passes those tests, unless you’re grading him too harshly based on his draft status. Hischier ranks second on the Devils in scoring (28 points in 40 games), trailing only Palmieri (31 points in 44). In case you’re wondering, Hall was at 25 points in 30 games before being traded to the Coyotes.

The Devils need more players like Hischier. If his career trajectory continues as such, we also might see more of Hischier in future All-Star Games.

The 2020 NHL All-Star Skills Competition will take place on Friday, Jan. 24 (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN) and the 2020 NHL All-Star Game will be on Saturday, Jan. 25 (8 p.m. ET, NBC).

MORE NHL ALL-STAR GAME COVERAGE:
All-Star Game rosters
NHL All-Star Game captains
All-Star Game coaches
Pass or Fail: 2020 All-Star Game jerseys
Alex Ovechkin will not play in 2020 All-Star Game

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Rangers’ Chytil blasts through Ducks defense for great goal

Chytil goal
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Times have been tough for young Rangers players, but a beautiful Filip Chytil goal highlights their promise. Chytil showed speed, hands, and finishing ability in slicing through the Anaheim Ducks’ defense on Sunday.

Again, that goal stands in contrast to some troubling updates for some of the Rangers’ prospects/young players. Earlier this week, reports surfaced that Lias Andersson wants out via a trade. Also, the Rangers didn’t just lose their third consecutive game on Friday; 2019 second overall pick Kaapo Kakko also suffered an injury.

So, yeah, Chytil scoring this splendid goal could soothe some uneasy feelings. Either way, enjoy this beauty of a goal:

Could this Chytil goal start another hot streak?

Chytil burst onto the scene once the Rangers called him up in late October.

The 20-year-old scored a goal in each of his first two games, setting off a hot run of six goals and one assist in eight games. By late November, Chytil generated 10 points (including eight goals) in an impressive 16 contests.

For whatever reason, Chytil froze up with the weather starting in December. Before scoring that sensational Sunday goal, Chytil managed just one assist in nine games this month. Call it a chicken-and-the-egg situation, but either way, his ice time has dropped from 16:37 per night in November to less than 14 minutes per game in December heading into this afternoon.

Later in the game, Chytil suffered a scary fall. The early word is that Chytil might avoid an injury:

Kreider value rising?

While fans watch young players develop, other GMs are eyeing potential trade targets — at least if the Rangers end up as sellers.

Chris Kreider looms as the most obvious person to watch, even if the Rangers hang in there. He’s a pending UFA, so Kreider simply might not fit into their long-term plans. Games like Sunday could pump up Kreider’s trade value, as he has two goals (and counting?) against the Ducks.

The Rangers beat the Ducks 5-1.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Lias Andersson reportedly asks Rangers for trade

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New York Rangers prospect Lias Andersson, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2017 draft, has reportedly asked the team for a trade.

That is according to TSN’s Darren Dreger, who also adds that Andersson is no longer with the team and that general manager Jeff Gorton will use the holiday trade freeze to assess the market for the 21-year-old forward.

It will be interesting to see what that market looks like.

Andersson’s development has been a pretty big point of discussion among the Rangers’ fan base. The Rangers drafted Andersson with the pick acquired in the blockbuster trade that sent Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta to the Arizona Coyotes. The Rangers also received defenseman Tony DeAngelo in that deal.

Both players figured to be key parts of the Rangers’ rebuild, but Andersson has not developed as anyone had hoped. How that happened is where the issue comes in for the Rangers. On one hand, he has not been given a consistent look in the NHL or significant ice time. As true as that is, he has also struggled stand out and force his way in the lineup.

In 66 NHL games with the Rangers he has three goals and nine total points over parts of three seasons. That includes zero goals and one assist in 17 games this season. His AHL numbers are slightly better during his career, scoring 15 goals and 34 points in 74 games.

Given the way his development has played out the Rangers should not expect a significant return should they choose to honor the request and trade him. It would, however, be a pretty good opportunity for another team to take a low-risk gamble and hope they can catch lightning in a bottle. Maybe a fresh start in a new organization helps. He is still only 21 years old, and even though he was considered a bit of an overdraft at the time he is still only a couple of years removed from being a top-10 pick. Someone is going to see some potential there and think they can make it work. You have to think the usual suspects — talent starved or rebuilding teams — would have at least some interest. Teams like Ottawa, Edmonton, Los Angeles, or Detroit would all immediately come to mind.

UPDATE:

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Flyers’ Patrick confident of returning to play this season

“If they’d gone away, I’d be playing.”

Nolan Patrick has yet to play a game for the Philadelphia Flyers this season due to a chronic migraine disorder. While he’s skated on his own for a while, he hasn’t taken part in a full practice in over a month and there’s still no timeline on a return.

With four months left in the 2019-20 regular season, the No. 2 overall pick from the 2017 NHL Draft isn’t giving up hope.

“I expect to play this year,” Patrick said Tuesday morning.

“He is progressing, he is doing more off-ice workouts and he is skating a little bit more on his own,” Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said. “Hopefully that’s a positive sign. That’s all I can really tell you. I don’t know much more than that.”

It’s not been easy for the 21-year-old forward as there are good days and bad days. There’s a lot of time by himself, but Patrick said his teammates have done a great job in making him feel a part of the team this season. He’s has been on a specific training program and he can get in the gym on a daily basis, but the recovery hasn’t gone smooth.

“If I’m not feeling that great that day we’ll just pump the brakes a little bit,” said Patrick. “It’s just trying to put together more good days in a row than bad. I’m not gonna go too much into my symptoms or what I have but it’s obviously frustrating. It’s not an injury where you’re going to be back in six weeks. There’s no timeframe to it. Obviously I’m hoping to get back soon and I believe I’ll play this year so that’s something I’m trying to stick with.”

As he’s been able to get on the ice, like Tuesday’s optional skate at Wells Fargo Center that featured the scratches for their game against the Maple Leafs, the next goal for Patrick to achieve is to take part in a full practice.

“Obviously I’m not gonna go into too much detail but there’s obviously a lot of things I’ve had to change,” Patrick said. “It’s an annoying process. It’s s—–. Hopefully I get back soon.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Devils, Hischier agree to seven-year, $50.75 million extension

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While the Devils don’t know yet if Taylor Hall will sign an extension to remain in New Jersey or find a new home next summer in free agency, GM Ray Shero has young locked down one of the team’s core pieces.

On Friday, Nico Hischier agreed to a seven-year, $50.75 million extension that carries a $7.25 million cap hit through the 2026-27 NHL season. The deal buys three unrestricted free agent years since the Devils forward has been playing since he was 18, per Cap Friendly.

“Nico is a special person who possess a team-first mentality combined with an inner drive to succeed,” said Shero in a statement. The entire organization is thankful to him and his family for believing in our future. We are excited that he will continue to play a prominent role with us for many years to come.”

According to the Devils, here’s the year-by-year breakdown:

2020-21: $7,000,000 (includes $3 million signing bonus)
2021-22: $7,250,000
2022-23:  $4,500,000
2023-24:  $7,750,000
2024-25:  $7,750,000
2025-26:  $8,000,000
2026-27:  $8,500,000

The extension also features a modified no-trade clause in the final three years.

In 157 NHL games, Hischier, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft, has 37 goals and 101 points while averaging over 17 minutes a night. His offense has been just fine with a 20 and 17 goals in his first two seasons, but his two-way game is what’s really boosted his talent.

The 20-year-old center joins the list of NHLers who passed on restricted free agency in 2020 to put pen to paper on a new deal, joining the likes of Alex DeBrincat, Clayton Keller, Thomas Chabot, and Sam Girard.

Mathew Barzal, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Dylan Strome, and Mikhail Sergachev are some of the other potential 2020 RFAs who will be looking for extensions before next season.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.