It is very important for the New Jersey Devils to have great line-mates for Jack Hughes.
The New Jersey Devils are more concerned with developing their young players than anything right now. One of those key players is Jack Hughes. They drafted Hughes with the first-overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. It was a great selection, but there were some bumpy roads in his rookie season. He did, however, show flashes of what he can do when he is at his best. He was one of the better players with the puck, but his decision making needs to be improved.
A lot of his issues will be helped by coaching, development, and being put in a position to succeed. To do that, he needs great linemates. Hughes has the skills to make people around him better, but putting those skills to use will take time.
For one, Jack Hughes needs to play center. He can make use of all areas of the ice when he has the puck so limiting him to less ice on the wing would be a waste. That is why he needs linemates, especially at a young age, who can take advantage of what he does well. In English, this is saying that he needs good goal scorers on his line. He didn’t have that luxury enough in 2019-20 and that needs to change.
Third or fourth line wingers aren’t the best for Hughes at this point. He needs established NHL goal scorers who can score gritty goals or have a good shot. The perfect player for that role that comes to mind first is Kyle Palmieri. Palmieri is a fantastic sniper who can also score goals in many different ways. He is also very good defensively which can help out if Hughes makes a mistake in that area (which is inevitable for young players).
Outside of Palmieri, there are even a few players outside of the organization the Devils could target. Free agents like Mikael Granlund or Mike Hoffman would absolutely be able to come in and help Hughes. No matter who it is, these people need to be committed to helping him get the most out of his skillset. It might take another year or two to really get a superstar level of production out of him but it is coming.
Jack Hughes is a big key to this organization’s success in the long term. He, along with Nico Hischier, is going to be the two pillars that the team builds everything around. They are each incredibly different but Hischier is a lot farther along in his development. For Hughes, he just needs to build up confidence and start his breakout. It is coming, we just need to be patient. Putting him in a position to succeed will start that process.