Morning Forecheck: Nico Hischier Named Captain, Connor McDavid vs Auston Matthews

Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski/USA Today Sports

 Welcome to the Morning Forecheck! Where I tackle some of the news and notes going on around the league.

Nico Hischier Named Captain of New Jersey Devils

Before making his season debut, Nico Hischier was named the captain of the New Jersey Devils. The 22-year old center was drafted first overall pick in 2017, the first Swiss-born player to do so. He joins Roman Josi as only the second Swiss-born captain in the league history.

I feel like this is an awesome move by the Devils. New Jersey drafted first overall in 2017, getting Hischier, and again in 2019 when they got Jack Hughes.

They now have two franchise pivots who are still growing and should become one of the better 1-2 punches in the league.

The Devils were decimated by COVID-19 with up to 17 players making their way onto the list at a single time. Even with dealing with all of that, they have had a respectable start to the season.

New Jersey currently has a 6-4-2 after losing to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. They trail the New York Rangers by a single point in the standings, while having four games in hand. With five games in hand on the New York Islanders, they trail them by five points. 

The Pittsburgh Penguins, who own the fourth spot in the East, also have 19 points, with four more games played than the Devils.

With Hischier back in the lineup, almost can expect the Devils to at least push for a playoff spot.

Auston Matthews vs Connor McDavid: The Debate With No Right Answer?

Man has the North division been fun to watch. Even with a full slate of games on at any given night, it's hard not to look at what's going on in Canada and decide to tune in to that contest.

It doesn't hurt that Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid both reside in the same division.

These two have essentially turned into the Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin of this generation. McDavid racking up the points, and Matthews almost seeming impossible to stop from putting the puck in the back of the net.

Now there's a chance we at least get to see them in a playoff round that isn't the Stanley Cup Final. Granted, a SCF with these two players, and teams, competing in would be amazing. I'd settle for a seven game series right now.

Right now McDavid is on pace to break the century mark in points - in a 56 game season. Matthews, on the other side, is on pace to score over 50 goals this season after netting another two Saturday night.

So who is your MVP?

That's a question that may not have a right answer. Matthews has been playing with Mitch Marner and Joe Thornton this season. Thornton is one of the best passers of all-time and Marner is in the top-10 in points this year.

McDavid doesn't have the same star power on his line, but does have last year's MVP and scoring champ playing on the same team.

Having both on the same team didn't stop the writers from giving them a highly placed vote in the MVP race. 

I guess it comes down to which team would suffer most without them in the lineup? Looking at the roster you'd have to say it was McDavid, even with Leon Draisaitl there.

That's doesn't always seem to be the final say in who gets the MVP, even if that's the exact definition of most valuable player.

We are going to have to wait and see.

What To Watch For: Sunday February 21st

The Winnipeg Jets and Vancouver Canucks played to a 2-0 game the last time they met, but there were far more chances than what the score indicated. Mark Scheifele continues to emerge to be one of the better players in the league, and going up against the likes of Matthews, McDavid and Elias Pettersson nightly only makes his case stronger.

After a strong showing the in playoffs, hopes were high for the Canucks, and while they certainly have been exciting to watch it hasn't worked out in their favor so far this season. It may be a tough season this year, but at least every game they play will be fun to watch.

The Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins face off in the other outdoor game, a contest that was pushed back to the night to try and avoid the same situation that occurred on Saturday. These two teams have to be considered the favorites out of the East.

Still not sure what to think of Pittsburgh, even if they have been playing better as of late. Washington has struggled of late, and can the Islanders keep up with either team in a seven game series? Could the division already be down to a two team race? I guess we will see.

What do you think of Hischier being named captain? Whose your favorite for MVP right now? What game will you be watching today? Let us know in the comment section below, subscribe to the site at the link above and follow me on Twitter @AJ_Murfy.

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