New Jersey Devils: Luke Hughes Destined For Long Term Success In New Jersey

Luke Hughes #43 of the Michigan Wolverines. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Luke Hughes #43 of the Michigan Wolverines. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

New Jersey Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald inked left-handed defenseman Luke Hughes after his final college game, a Michigan loss to Quinnipiac in the Frozen Four. Devils brass made it known that they wanted to bring the youngest Hughes brother in as soon as possible.

The Devils will look for a way to gradually add Hughes into the lineup. He didn’t play against Boston on Saturday night. Winning and success come a long way in the Hughes household, and they know a lot about being team players.

Since Luke is a September 9th birthday, he’s one of the youngest guys in his draft class. The NHL Entry Draft cut-off date is September 15th. Players like Luke Hughes fall under the Outliers concept, according to a philosophical take done by Malcolm Gladwell in the “Matthew Effect.”

"Analysis: Introduction: The Roseto Mystery & Chapter 1: The Matthew EffectBy the time these older players reach their early teens, the extra advantages gained from being judged better because of their birthday translate into being better players. Similarly, the age cutoff for school registrations often mistakes maturity for ability. As a result, the older children appear smarter, get put into advanced groups, and qualify for gifted programs. The birthdate bias carries through to college."

This does strike a lot of traits that Luke Hughes possesses. It is creepily similar that Luke Hughes is on a similar trend to his brother Quinn as a defenseman. They both went through the USNTDP and eventually, both played for Michigan for two years before heading to the NHL.

Luke and Quinn Hughes could easily match offensive output. So far, Quinn has scored at an 0.86 points per games pace. Having Luke Hughes play a bit of time in the regular season and playoffs will help him gradually move up that ladder of successful development. If there is smoke, there has to be fire. If he goes on the Cale Makar trajectory, he would follow another trend of offensive-defensemen dominating out of the gate. Makar’s first games in the NHL were playoff games in 2018-19. Now look at him.

To be fair, Luke Hughes’ youth proves he fits into the outlier category. By the time training camp starts for the 2023-24 season, he will be 20 years old. He’s not even old enough to grab a beer yet (in America). Regardless of future success, the best comparable for him is Quinn. Quinn at age 19 had 3 assists in 5 games playing for the Vancouver Canucks. The next season, he went on to have 53 points in 68 games as a 20-year-old.

Luke’s incredibly fast skating and bigger body make him unique. He’s gonna add more muscle mass. Just like Quinn and Jack, Luke’s elite-level passing comes with his incredible hockey IQ. Hockey sense is the signature part of their two-way creativity. The moment Luke hits the ice and jumps in on a rush, it could bring flashes of Scott Niedermayer. Fans are very familiar with that style of play. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves yet.

Luke is just getting adjusted here at the NHL level after leaving the Michigan Wolverines. A few practices will only get a few sneak peeks until the beat writers on Twitter tell us when Luke Hughes makes his debut official. It would be amazing to see another rising star rise before our own eyes. He will help raise that depth on defense and make the internal competition even more competitive. Hopefully, gain a few extra points before the season ends before the playoffs begin.