New Jersey Devils: Where Is Jack Hughes’ Ceiling This Season?

Jack Hughes #86 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Jack Hughes #86 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

It’s very easy to see that Jack Hughes at his very best could one day hit 100 points per season. He showed some of those intangibles last season for the New Jersey Devils. At times, he was the best player on the ice. He was by far the best player for the Devils, and he was only 19 years old. He also had to deal with the Devils’ COVID outbreak. There was a lot going against him, including the fact that the Devils traded most of the veterans away, but Hughes found ways to do the best with what he was given by head coach Lindy Ruff.

That makes us ask, what does his ceiling look like next season? Can Hughes become a 100-point player next season?

That one is hard to fathom. There have only been 23 100-point seasons (only counting full 82-game seasons) since 2007-08. That is on average 2.1 players to break the mark per season. (Thanks to friend of the podcast Evolving Wild for the info.) With a league full of players like Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Sidney Crosby, Artemi Panarin, Nathan MacKinnon, and Aleksander Barkov, only two per year are getting to 100 points.

Does Jack Hughes’ ceiling mean he hits 100 points this season?

Hughes should be much, much better on the scoresheet this season. For one, he is in his third NHL season. We’ve seen players go off in their third professional season. Draisaitl when from a 50-point player to a 70-point player in his third season. He would eventually hit 100 points for the first time in his fifth season. Claude Giroux went from 47 to 76 points in years two and three. He hit 100 points in year four. Players like Crosby and McDavid needed just one season to break into the 100-point stratosphere.

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Another reason why Hughes will be better is the team the Devils put around him. Just think about the possibilities on the power play. Hughes was on the ice for 42 high-danger chances on the power play according to Natural Stat Trick. Dougie Hamilton, who is now Hughes’ teammate, was on the ice for 71 high-danger chances. They were on the ice for almost the exact same amount of power-play minutes. Adding Hamilton and Tomas Tatar will give Hughes so many more chances on the power play, it is actually insane.

It’s really hard to expect Hughes to hit 100 points even if literally everything goes right. The Devils added some firepower, especially to the power play. That should help Hughes hit as close to his ceiling as possible. He does still have a lack of talent on his wings. It’s not like Yegor Sharangovich and Tatar or Janne Kuokkanen aren’t talented, but it is clear Hughes needs to bring them up to his level. That’s okay. That is what Crosby and McDavid do every year.

Hughes’ ceiling feels like 75 points. That includes at least 25 goals. Just about everyone would be ecstatic with those kinds of numbers from the Devils number-one center. He needs to build off last season and coming in with the same added weight he had before the COVID outbreak. If he can stop getting knocked off the puck on his entries, he might turn into one of the best in the league when it comes to zone entry. Building off that will create points as possession is king in this sport.