Nico Hischier
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Nico Hischier not only celebrated his 21st birthday on Saturday but earned an assistant captain role with the New Jersey Devils. 

Forward Nico Hischier and the New Jersey Devils celebrated the 21-year-old’s birthday on Saturday in style.

The Devils officially announced that Hischier and forward Kyle Palmieri would split assistant captain duties for the remainder of the season. The honor is a well-deserved birthday present and the announcement couldn’t have arrived at a better time.

Life’s been good for No. 13 lately. The 2017 No. 1 overall selection has displayed signs of progression with not only his play on the ice but also his overall leadership qualities.

While Jersey’s team is riding a three-game winning streak entering Saturday night’s contest vs. the Colorado Avalanche, Hischier has provided a positive sense of energy and clutch performances when the team needs it most.

The Devils’ future star was referred to as “elite” by NBC’s Pierre McGuire on Thursday night. This came after Hischier netted a beautiful goal past veteran Semyon Varlamov of the New York Islanders.

While McGuire has voiced questionable and comical comments on the air in the past, his reference to Hischier was accurate.

Arguably the future captain of New Jersey, Hischier has recorded six points over the past four games. He’s also found the back of the net on three occasions.

There was a question of whether or not Palmieri would feel comfortable with him and the youngster sharing the leadership duties. Nonetheless, per team reporter Amanda Stein, the Devils’ leading goal-scorer approved of the decision.

No, Hischier isn’t quite Connor McDavid or Sidney Crosby just yet. But the Switzerland native has blossomed into a top-tier two-way skater. He’s also portrayed promise that he can, in fact, be an “elite” presence at the NHL level.

Hischier has grown into his own while providing a sense of hope that he’ll lead the way for future success in the Garden State.

Kyle McKenna is a freelancer who covers the NHL for Elite Sports New York, Hooked On Hockey Magazine & Fansided. Follow him on Twitter @KMcKenna_tLT5 and use the hashtag #McKennasDigest to have your NHL questions featured in an article or answered over his weekly NHL podcast.