New Jersey Devils have tied Jack Hughes and Erik Haula together this season. It's not something anyone would..."/> New Jersey Devils have tied Jack Hughes and Erik Haula together this season. It's not something anyone would..."/> New Jersey Devils have tied Jack Hughes and Erik Haula together this season. It's not something anyone would..."/>

New Jersey Devils: Erik Haula’s Value To Jack Hughes Still Evident

Erik Haula #56 of the New Jersey Devils (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Erik Haula #56 of the New Jersey Devils (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

The New Jersey Devils have tied Jack Hughes and Erik Haula together this season. It’s not something anyone would expect before the season. It seemed pretty farfetched that they would be together for a multitude of reasons. For one, they both play the same “position.” Both Hughes and Haula are centers. This is actually why Lindy Ruff paired them together.

Haula is winning faceoffs for Hughes, so Hughes can gain possession more often. Haula helps Hughes get the puck, right? It’s a little more complicated than that.

With or without Haula, Hughes has the same chance percentage on the ice. Hughes gets about 60.5% of the offensive chances when he’s on the ice. The high-danger chances actually favor Hughes without Haula, but the actual goals on the ice favor a Hughes-Haula pairing. The two have seen 17 goals scored and only 9 goals against in 231 5v5 minutes (according to Natural Stat Trick). Hughes without Haula has seen 12 goals scored and 10 against.

Haula has been clearly snake bitten this season. He has just one goal and zero goals at even strength. Yet, he has 26 individual high-danger chances, most on the team. He isn’t just a passenger on his line. He is getting to those high-danger areas and is open for huge passes. They just aren’t going in the back of the net.

With Haula on his line, Hughes has changed his philosophy and sometimes goes ISO. In basketball, that’s when a player takes over the play and drives to the basket. In hockey, it’s when a player dangles and dekes through the offensive zone to make his own chances. It’s not the most ideal situation, but it was working for a while with this line.

New Jersey Devils Top 25 Prospects. dark. Next

Would it be better if Hughes had a high-quality winger on his line? Of course, but that’s not the situation the Devils find themselves in. They are playing without Ondrej Palat and Nathan Bastian. Their forwards are shorthanded. Haula brings something the Devils coaching staff prioritizes. They want Jack Hughes and his linemates to have possession while he’s on the ice. Haula provides possession in the form of faceoff wins and smart puck handling. He needs to finish, yes, but it’s literally impossible to have this much bad luck on so many wide-open chances all season long.