New Jersey Devils Prospect Luke Hughes Doesn’t Make Team USA Olympic Team

The New Jersey Devils thought they were going to be well represented at the Beijing Olympics once the NHL said it agreed to send its players. Nico Hischier would definitely make it with the Swiss, pairing once again with Timo Meier. Tomas Tatar would absolutely make it for Slovakia, as he’s one of the best players to represent that country. Jack Hughes and Dougie Hamilton would have been interesting cases to make U.S.A. and Canada respectively. However, none of those players are allowed on the team anymore.

Rising COVID cases and pretty strict protocols from China have caused the NHL to back out of its agreement. Now, NHL players are staying home, and the world’s hockey teams are forced to scramble to put together new teams. Friend of the Let’s Go Devils Podcast Chris Peters and EP Rinkside’s Frank Seravalli have come together to find the players on Team USA before they were announced.

There are a lot of interesting names on the list. Kenny Agostino had a fun, albeit short run with the Devils in 2018-19. Brian O’Neill last played for the Devils in 2015-16 before heading to the KHL, where he’s played ever since. He also played on the 2018 Olympic team, the only player who’s been on both teams.

Those are the former NHL players with Devils ties, but there were prospects who had a real shot to represent the red, white, and blue in China next month. Luke Hughes was tops on the list. The youngest of the Hughes brothers is having a great season at Michigan this year, his first with the Wolverines. Matty Beniers is on the roster, so it’s not like Michigan refused to let people go.

One of two things likely happened here. Either Hughes didn’t make the team or he decided not to go. It’s possible that the U.S.A. evaluators decided they wanted to go with other players over Hughes. Four other NCAA defensemen made the team.

It might be for the best. Luke Hughes can continue to grow at Michigan. While the Olympics would have been a cool experience, there is risk there. It might not be worth it to the Devils and the Hughes family to send a prize player and person to a country with so many issues. Hughes looks like the making of a star, and the Devils know skipping the Olympics shouldn’t take him off his trajectory.