5 Questions New Jersey Devils Must Answer This Season

Jack Hughes #86 of the New Jersey Devils (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
Jack Hughes #86 of the New Jersey Devils (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images) /
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New Jersey Devils
Jack Hughes #86 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Who is Jack Hughes?

The New Jersey Devils need to figure out who is Jack Hughes. Is he the savior American center that’s going to be a 100-point play in due time, or is he someone that needs the goalposts moved because his NHL talent has been widely overexaggerated? He put on a ton of muscle during the pause, and it showed in training camp. He was often the best player on the ice in scrimmages, and the coaches made it sound like he took over practice at times.

Hughes was awful last season. There’s no other way to put it. However, there are a lot of examples of number-one overall picks having a tough time in their first season and immediately bouncing back to become Hall of Famers. There aren’t many examples of players who have two rough seasons and then bouncing back. Nathan MacKinnon did make a huge jump in year five, but we all know Devils fans won’t be that patient.

Hughes needs to show *something* this season. Right now, the Devils have him on a line with Nikita Gusev and Kyle Palmieri. Will that continue if one or both of them are traded? They are both in their contract years, and the Devils reportedly want to re-sign them, but the trade deadline is April 12th, so the Devils only have three months to figure out what they are. If they are moved, it could hurt Hughes production. Also, the return of Nico Hischier makes it a question mark.

Still, Hughes needs to be a driving force for the Devils’ offense. Especially with Hischier dealing with a lower-body injury, Hughes needs to be a top center.