5 Bold Predictions For New Jersey Devils This Season

New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (86): (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)
New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (86): (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports) /
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New Jersey Devils
New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (86): (Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports) /

Jack Hughes Will Be The Top-Line Center All Season

Nico Hischier took over as top-line center his rookie season because Travis Zajac missed the beginning of the 2017-18 season with a torn pectoral muscle. Zajac never got that position back because of how well Hischier was playing with Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri. That’s what makes this prediction ironic.

Hischier is going to miss the beginning of the season with a lower-body injury he suffered while training in Switzerland. In his absence, Jack Hughes has been playing in between Palmieri and Nikita Gusev as the team’s top line. That line has looked really good in training camp. One of the most important things about this season is finding chemistry. John Hynes was never able to get chemistry with his lines last season. New head coach Lindy Ruff will make that a priority.

Since Hughes is here and Hischier is not, it’s likely Ruff allows this line to breathe even when Hischier returns. It also helps that Hischier will return close to the same time Bratt returns, so that seems like a natural pairing. They could add Andreas Johnsson to the line, who looks like he’s on a line with Pavel Zacha. That likely won’t last.

This seems like a good bet to happen. Maybe Hughes’ wingers will change, but his status as 1C likely won’t. That’s the hope for the Devils long term anyway. Hischier can hopefully be a top two-way center while Hughes focuses on driving offense from the top line.