The New Jersey Devils are just full of good news on Tuesday. Not only did we learn that Jack Hughes was returning to the lineup, but the rumors quickly swirled that Hughes was also signing a massive extension with the Devils. Then, the confirmation came from The Athletic’s Corey Masisak.
Getting Jack Hughes, who already has superstar tendencies, to agree to an eight-year deal at this number is huge. Obviously, the NHL is still dealing with a flat cap and will likely deal with it for a little while longer, but getting Hughes to sign for $8 million per season shows that he was as willing to lock himself into the Devils as the Devils were to lock themselves into him.
Hughes watched his brother Quinn Hughes go through a pretty ugly negotiation in the offseason with the Vancouver Canucks. They eventually agreed upon a six-year deal worth $7.85 million per season. Hughes gets to tell his brother he is now the bread winner of the family just a few months later.
Here are some of the breakdowns for Hughes’ deal:
Year 1: $9,000,000
Years 2-4: $8,500,000
Year 5: $8,000,000
Year 6: $7,500,000
Years 7-8: $7,000,000
There isn’t a lot of strangeness in this deal like wild roster/signing bonuses or huge money off the top. This is a pretty open and shut contract with a little difference off the top. Hughes probably just needs an influx of cash so he can afford to buy a house with New Jersey real estate prices where they are right now. That’s why he took the $2 million bonus in the first year only. He also gets a 10-team no-trade clause in the final four years of the deal.
This is a slight risk for both sides, but most contracts fall like that. The Devils are taking a risk because Hughes still hasn’t proven he can be one of the top players in this league for 82 games. He showed flashes last year, but the COVID outbreak really took a toll on him. Then, he had some awesome flashes early this season, but he’s been injured twice already. One forced him to miss six weeks with a separated shoulder.
This is also a risk for Hughes. There are 25 players in the league who make $9 million or more per season. Hughes won’t get there until his possible next contract which doesn’t expire until 2030. There are going to be more and more players passing Hughes for average-annual value, but it makes a lot of sense for both sides to make this deal.
The Devils now have their top-two centers locked up until the end of the 2026-27 season. On top of that, Dawson Mercer is in the first year of his entry-level contract. They have two years with him playing under a close-to-minimum deal. The Devils future is bright and the present is exciting. This contract shows Tom Fitzgerald is hitting it out of the park.