The New Jersey Devils Best Active Homegrown Player: Brought to You By Upper Deck

On June 21, 2019, the New Jersey Devils hit the jackpot. Literally.

It was a moment that would shape the future of the Devils. Martin Brodeur, a legend in his own right, stood at the mircrophone at Rogers Arena and announced that New Jersey had chosen Jack Hughes with the first overall selection.

Hughes turned to his younger brother and now teammate, Luke Hughes, before hugging his older brother Quinn. After embracing his mom, Ellen, and dad, Jim, he slowly made his way to the stage.

It was no surprise that Hughes was selected first in the 2019 NHL Entry  Draft. His exceptional skating, hockey IQ, and playmaking ability set him apart, drawing comparisons to another USA-born player, Patrick Kane.

"At 17, there have been five guys who have really jumped out at me [in the The United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP) history] like Jack does. Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel, Phil Kessel, and Kane in the 23 years of the program," then USNTDP senior director Scott Monaghan said to The Athletic. "I've been around long enough, and there's not a lot of guys who make me go 'wow' on a fairly weekly basis, and Jack is one of them." (from 'Pronman: Why Jack Hughes is an elite NHL prospect,' The Athletic, 4/8/19).

the new jersey devils best active homegrown player: brought to you by upper deck

The New Jersey Devils Best Active Homegrown Player: Brought to You By Upper Deck

His first season in the NHL did not exactly go as fans expected as he earned 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists) in 61 games,but he consistently improved. On Nov. 30, 2021, Hughes signed an eight-year, $64 million contract extension with the Devils.

The 5-foot-11 center showed what he was capable of during the 2022-23 season.

In 78 games, he scored an impressive 43 goals and finished the campaign with 99 points. He broke multiple single-season records, including the franchise record of 96 points set by Patrik Elias in 2000-01.

After a hot start, his 2023-24 season got derailed due to injuries and was eventually cut short when Hughes underwent shoulder surgery in early April. But despite all the obstacles, he became New Jersey's new single-season leader in assists per game with 0.76, surpassing Scott Stevens' performance in 1993-94.

With his shoulder injury addressed, the sky will be the limit for the 23-year-old when the 2024-25 season begins in October.

Celebrate the 2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft with a FREE digital trading card set that features some of your favorite NHL superstars, like Connor Bedard, Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, and more. Make sure to add them to your collection today!

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