Hughes News Galore

As we move closer to the Devils and Sharks facing off tonight at Prudential Center on ESPN+, a few important news items have come down from the team that involve both Jack and Luke Hughes.

First up, Jack’s back!

Jack Hughes will make his return to the Devils lineup tonight after separating his shoulder on October 19 in the second game of the season against the Seattle Kraken.

Head coach Lindy Ruff told Sam Kasan of the Devils’ official website that “Jack is ready to go. He will play tonight.” Kasan quoted him in his pregame preview for tonight’s Devils-Sharks game.

Hughes told Kasan: “It’s obviously extremely exciting. It’s been a long time. I’m excited to get back out there. To start at home and play in front of our fans will be a lot of fun.”

Kasan noted that Hughes had a great start to his now-truncated season. He scored two goals and added an assist “in four periods of play, which included a dramatic overtime-winning tally against Chicago in the season opener.”

Hughes commented on that, saying “I started hot, but now I’ve got 65 games [Hughes ended up missing 17 games due to his shoulder injury] to get hot again. “I’ve got a lot of runway left. It’s fortunate it was only 17-game thing, it could have been much worse.”

Kasan says that Hughes “could see time at wing tonight.”

Hughes continued, telling Kasan “I don’t know what to expect [in terms of his return tonight]. It’s going to take me a period or two to get back to it. I don’t know if the fans are expecting something outrageous tonight. I’m going to play smart and find my way back into the game, take it easy and play my game. … I’ll take it one period at a time tonight.”

Kasan said that after the collision with Seattle’s Jeremy Lauzon, Jack was put on the Injured Reserve list and had been projected on October 29 to miss about five weeks total when he was examined. Hughes is now a week earlier in returning than he was projected to at that time.

Kasan spoke a little more to Ruff about that, who told him “I knew Jack was bugging me a week ago to play that we were getting pretty close. We looked at the schedule and wanted to get X amount of practices in with him. We were able to do that. We figured the date would be today. It wasn’t etched in stone, but thought if things progress and he gets those practices inm, today would be the day.”

For his part, Hughes told Kasan: “I had this date circled on my calendar. I think I got in sooner than people thought.”

But when the centerman takes the ice tonight, he will be doing so with a little bit of added incentive.

The Devils announced today that Jack Hughes and the Devils have agreed to terms on an eight-year contract extension.

The extension will kick in for the 2022-23 season and will have an average annual value of $8,000,000. According to the Devils’ press release on the contract, the total value is $64,000,000 and it will break down as $9,000,000 in 2022-23, $8,500,000 in 2023-24, $8,500,000 in 2024-25, $8,500,000 in 2025-26, $8,000,000 in 2026-27, $7,500,000 in 2027-28, #7,000,000 in 2028-29 and $7,000,000 in 2029-30.

Hughes was quoted as saying “I’m so excited to sign this deal for myself and for my family. I love bing in New Jersey and I love playing in New Jersey. I wouldn’t want to play anywhere else, and we are really building something special. I believe in what we are doing here, and we have a great chance to be successful for a long time. This contract shows that this team is extremely invested in me and I’m also really dedicated to this organization. I want to thank Tom Fitzgerald, David Blitzer, Josh Harris, and everyone with the New Jersey Devils for this opportunity.”

Blitzer said in the press release, “I am ecstatic for Jack and his entire family. This is a strong commitment from Jack to the organization’s future and the New Jersey Devils to Jack. We all know what Jack means to the team on and off the ice – he’s an unbelievable player and a fantastic person. His future is incredibly bright and he will be a pillar for our franchise for years to come.”

Harris added, “This deal is fantastic both for Jack and the New Jersey Devils. I know our fans are enthusiastic about our young core as they grow together and look to achieve tremendous levels of success. I want to thank Tom Fitzgerald for his work on getting this deal completed, as he continues to make excellent decisions for this organization that sets us up for the future.”

General Manager Tom Fitzgerald told the media: “Today is a big day for the New Jersey Devils. This contract shows the commitment Jack and his family have to us, and how the organization – myself, David Blitzer and Josh Harris – are in turn committed to them. We are building something unique and special here, with Jack being a core piece of that. This is just the start of where we believe we can go with this organization, as we work towards sustained success for years to come.”

This is great news for the team and its fans. Keeping Jack around for the long haul should set the Devils up for a lot of future success, we hope.

In other Hughes news that came out today, Jack’s younger brother, defenseman Luke Hughes, has been added to Team USA’s preliminary roster for the 2022 World Junior Championship.

Hughes joins “30 other players” who “will compete for a roster spot for the yearly tournament” according to Kasan. Kasan also noted that an injury kept Hughes out of the 2021 IIHF World Juniors.

This year’s tournament will take place in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta between December 26, 2021 and January 6, 2022 as noted by Kasan as well.

Luke is currently a freshman at the University of Michigan, where he has seven goals and eight assists for 15 points over 16 games for a stacked Wolverines team.

He was drafted by the Devils fourth overall in the first-round of this past July’s NHL Draft.

Luke Hughes, though he did not play in last year’s U-18 WJC, is no stranger to international hockey. According to Kasan, he won a silver medal for the United States “at the 2019-20 World U-17 Hockey Challenge.” He also played for the US National Team Development Program prior to his time at Michigan. He was drafted by the Devils out of that program.

Kasan mentioned that Hughes led the “USNTDP defensemen in points per game after posting 34 in 38 contests.”

Congratulations to the Hughes boys on these great achievements!

USA Starts World Championships With Shootout Win Over Canada

In international hockey, there are very few rivalries today as good as USA-Canada. The 2018 IIHF World Championships decided to give us a taste of that rivalry early on as the two squads met today on the opening day of the roughly two week tournament. The US defeated the Canadians 5-4 in a shootout at the Jyske Bank Boxen in Herning, Denmark. The teams are competing in Group B.

Team USA has four Devils on the team: Will Butcher (who was fantastic the other day in a pre-tournament exhibition game against Denmark), Blake Coleman, Brian Gibbons and goalie Keith Kinkaid. All four were in action today and played a part in the victory.

Canada got off to a quick start by jumping out to a 2-1 lead by the end of the first. Pierre-Luc Dubois beat Kinkaid just 47 seconds into the contest off an assist from Vancouver’s Bo Horvat. Ryan O’Reilly then scored at the 12:23 mark from Josh Bailey to make it 2-0 Canada.

But the US responded at the just over a minute after the O’Reilly goal at 13:59 when Anders Lee scored from Tage Thompson and Alex Debrincat. That made it 2-1 and the US comeback was on.

In what Team Canada coach Bill Peters called back-and-forth action, the US tied things up just 43 seconds into the second period when Dylan Larkin scored from Chris Kreider and Jordan Oesterle.

It would remain tied at two until the ten minute mark of the second when Salem, New Jersey’s Johnny Gaudreau scored off a feed from Patrick Kane and the secondary assist going to Blake Coleman. Coleman picked up his first point of the tournament with that assist and would finish the evening with the point, a plus-1 rating, and a shot on goal in 10:07 of ice time spread out over 18 shifts.

The US now had a 3-2 lead, but Canada would tie things before the end of the frame, notching one at 17:53 when Anthony Beauvillier scored from Aaron Ekblad and Matt Barzal. Going into the third period, we were knotted at three.

And the third stanza would not help things much, as we would end up tied after that period too. Larkin scored his second of the game from Kreider and Cam Atkinson to make it 4-3 USA just 3:27 into the final period. Canada would then tie things up at four at 10:48 when Colton Parayko beat Kinkaid with an assist to Canadian captain Connor McDavid.

When overtime did not produce a winner, we went on to a shootout. This was Kinkaid’s time to shine. The shootout began with Canadian goaltender Darcy Kuemper stopping Kane. Kinkaid then stopped Brayden Schenn. Kuemper then stopped Gaudreau while Quinn Hughes shot wide. Kinkaid stopped Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Kuemper stopped Larkin in the next round.

Finally, Atkinson beat Kuemper to give the US the lead and it was up to Kinkaid. He would save a shot by Jordan Eberle and the US came away with the 5-4 win over Canada.

By all accounts, Kinkaid was under siege all evening as the US was out shot by Canada 31-11. But he came up big, making 28 saves in the victory.

Butcher ended the night with a shot on goal and a minus-2 rating in 12:49 of time on ice spread out over 22 shifts. Gibbons was a minus-1 in 7:45 over 14 shifts.

Team USA currently stands in first place in Group B with two points over Canada with one point. No other team in the group has played yet.

Next up for Team USA, they take on host Denmark tomorrow. Switzerland will also be playing Austria tomorrow, which allows us to see Mirco Mueller in action. Devils goaltending prospect Gilles Senn will also be a part of the Swiss team. Nico Hischier was invited to play, as you would imagine, but he had been dealing with a nagging hand/wrist injury and opted out.

We will have ongoing coverage of the tournament right here, so stay tuned.