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Hischier signs entry-level contract after impressing Devils at camp

By Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer, 07/16/17, 2:30PM CDT

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Center Nico Hischier, the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft by the New Jersey Devils, on Saturday signed a three-year, entry-level contract worth $925,000 per season, the maximum allowed.

Hischier, 18, took part in a scrimmage in front of Devils season ticket holders on the final day of development camp at the RWJBarnabas Health Hockey House in Newark, New Jersey.

"He's been everything I had hoped he would be; I know this isn't an evaluation but certainly his on-ice skill set is really fun to watch," Devils general manager Ray Shero said. "He's a really respectful kid and the way he carries himself I think is really nice to see and he has interacted well with the younger players and the veterans that came in. That's his upbringing, but it's been a great learning week for him and it's been nice to see the type of person he is as well."

Hischier, the first Switzerland-born player selected No. 1, and the first top pick made by the Devils, will wear No. 13 for New Jersey.

The Devils also updated the possibility of signing forward Alexander Kerfoot, who was a top 10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in NCAA Division I men's ice hockey last season as a senior at Harvard. Kerfoot, selected in the fifth round (No. 150) of the 2012 NHL Draft, can become an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 16 if not signed by the Devils.

"Me, (Devils coach) John Hynes and (Devils assistant GM) Tom Fitzgerald talked to [Kerfoot] a few days ago on a conference call with him and explained where we were," Shero said. "We gave him a reminder that we'd really like to sign him but, like anybody else, he controls the outcome until Aug. 15. It was good conversation and he'll talk to his agent. There's not much more he can learn from us at this point, but it was good to reconnect with him."

Kerfoot (5-foot-10, 174 pounds) had 45 points (16 goals, 29 assists) in 36 games as Harvard captain in 2016-17. The 22-year-old first-team All-Ivy selection was a finalist for ECAC Hockey Player of the Year.

"I'll never say never, but if he hits the open market (Aug. 16), he's more than likely gone," Shero said. "I hope he signs here; we like him as a kid and we value him."

Shero said talks are ongoing with restricted free agent defenseman Damon Severson, 22, a right-handed shot coming off a three-year, two-way, $2.85 million contract who was given a qualifying offer by the Devils on June 26.

"We can take our time on Severson; he's a young defenseman that we're excited to work with," Shero said. "I want to make sure he understands that, so we'll look at different options with him and his agent. There's no rush there."

Severson was paired with captain Andy Greene in the first half of last season but was a second- or third-pair defenseman for much of the second half. He had 31 points (three goals, 28 assists) in 80 games.