The New Jersey Devils continue to inch closer to the playoffs with only two games left in the 2022-23 regular season. While the team continues to take a one-day-at-a-time approach, general manager Tom Fitzgerald addressed the future of his team, more specifically the blue line, by signing former fourth overall pick Luke Hughes to his first NHL contract.
Luke Hughes Joined the Team in Boston
“It’s been a long time coming. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little kid,” Luke said. “To do it with my brother in the room is pretty special.”
With the University of Michigan’s loss to Quinnipiac University in the Frozen Four, the next step for Devils prospect Luke was to sign his first NHL contract. On April 8, 2023, he put pen to paper on a three-year, entry-level contract and officially joins his older brother in New Jersey.
“There really was no better time to do it,” Fitzgerald said. “He was eager to do it as well. We thought we wait a couple days, let him get settled back in Michigan, and then get him on a plane to New Jersey early (next) week. But he was so eager to do it. …We’re glad he’s here.”
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Luke watched the Devils from the press box in TD Garden last night, April 8, along with a few of his new teammates including Brendan Smith and Erik Haula. With two games left it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he makes his NHL debut before the postseason begins on April 17. It has been confirmed by the team that he will wear number 43 and his nameplate will simply say “Hughes” not “L. Hughes.”
“I think it’s important for Luke to get acclimated to his new team, his surroundings, teammates, staff,” Fitzgerald said. “Now that we have him here, we can actually sit down and coach him. It’s tough to develop and coach from afar. You’re just part of the process. Now we have our hands on him. Now we can mold him and develop him into the player we know he can be.”
Jack Hughes Ties Patrik Elias’ Record
After the team’s 8-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets, Jack met the media and confidently said he wants the record. Of course, he was referring to Elias’ franchise record for the most points (96) that a New Jersey skater earned in a single season.
The 21-year-old had a four-point night versus the Blue Jackets bringing his point total for the season to 95. A little over six minutes into the opening frame versus the Boston Bruins last night Hughes received the puck from Ondrej Palat and skated through the neutral zone into the offensive zone. He passed it to Jesper Bratt who got the team’s lone goal versus Linus Ullmark and the Bruins.
That primary assist was Jack’s 96th point of the season tying him with Elias. The Orlando, Florida native has two more games to break the record. It’s worth noting he has four points in two games versus the Buffalo Sabres, the team’s April 11 opponent, and three points in two games against the Washington Capitals, the team’s final opponent on April 13.
“That’s one hell of an accomplishment when you look at it,” head coach Lindy Ruff said. “He’s put together one heck of a year. We’ve got a couple games left here and then we’ll start the new season.”
The Devils are off the ice today, April 9. Their final home game of the regular season will take place on Tuesday, April 11 before the club travels to Washington D.C. for their finale against Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals. Be sure to follow me on Twitter for all the latest surrounding the Devils.