New Jersey Devils Betting Big on Jack Hughes’ Potential

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 30: Jack Hughes #86 of the New Jersey Devils skates against the San Jose Sharks at the Prudential Center on November 30, 2021 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The New Jersey Devils announced Tuesday that Jack Hughes signed an eight-year, $64 million contract extension with the club. The 2019 first-overall pick is a budding superstar, but this contract is a reflection of what he can do not what he’s done so far.

The Devils selected the American-born center with the belief that he would a superstar on a championship team. In his young career, Hughes has shown flashes of living up to this billing but has struggled to have sustained success. Some of that can be contributed to coaching changes and the pandemic causing inconsistency in his first two seasons.

There are not many situations where a team gives an eight-year contract to a player with only 120 games under his belt. Hughes has 55 points in those games including three points in three games this season.

The Devils are a different team with Hughes on the ice. He is clearly the most skilled forward on the team as well as a menace around the puck. In the shortened 2020-21 season, Hughes accumulated 31 points in 56 games and finished second in the NHL in takeaways with 56.

The 20-year-old’s advanced analytics show that Hughes possesses a special level of talent and could easily live up to the contract.

If Hughes can continue this trajectory and take steps forward, then this contract will end up being a steal in only a couple of seasons.

With Hughes locked up through the 2029-30 season, the Devils now have their core under contract for the foreseeable future. The trio of Hughes, Nico Hischier, Dougie Hamilton, barring a trade, will be in red and black through the 2026-27 season.

Hughes also made his return to the ice in Tuesday night’s game against the San Jose Sharks after missing 17 games with a dislocated shoulder. While his speed and puck handling was there, there was some noticeable rust on Hughes’ ability to pass and shoot.

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