3 New Jersey Devils who need to step up amid Nico Hischier's injury

New Jersey Devils captain Nico Hischier suffered an injury from an illegal check to the head on Friday night. With the center out for Sunday night's game, here are three players who need to step up in his absence.

Buffalo Sabres v New Jersey Devils - Nico Hischier
Buffalo Sabres v New Jersey Devils - Nico Hischier / Elsa/GettyImages
3 of 3

1. Dawson Mercer

Considering Dawson Mercer had such a strong sophomore season which made him subject to higher expectations, he’s been rather disappointing so far this season. Mercer scored 27 goals in 2022-23, and his season included several other accomplishments such as his first career hat trick and an eight-game goal streak. Through seven games this season, Mercer has zero points. He has just five shots on goal, compared to 21 shots on goal in the same number of games last October. 

Ruff shifted Mercer to playing center on Friday night. While the Devils were hopeful that this would get Mercer going, it didn’t seem to, at least not offensively.  Devils fans were ready to cheer for him scoring his first goal of the season on an empty net on his birthday — right up until he missed the net. That’s the kind of deflating season it’s been for him so far. 

It’s a contract year for Mercer, and the longer it takes for him to start making an impact, the more one has to wonder what his extension will look like if he fails to live up to last year’s success. If ever there’s a good time for Mercer to find his footing and get rolling, it’s now in the absence of Hischier. 

While their captain deals with recovering from a bad hit, these three Devils can help the team push forward.

Next. 2023-24 NHL early winners and losers. 2023-24 NHL season: Early winners and losers. dark