The future is promising for the New Jersey Devils despite their 2022-23 season ending in a heartbreaking overtime loss in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Although the Devils lost the series 4-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes, they have a lot to make them proud. The gutsy team scored eight goals in a Game 3 win. They clawed their way to overtime in Game 5, showing hockey fans what they proved all year long: never count New Jersey out until the very end.
Some people thought the Devils wouldn’t make the playoffs or that they’d be a wild card team at best, insinuating the success they saw early in the season with the 13-game winning streak wouldn’t last. The Devils arrived ahead of schedule, quieting detractors by finishing third overall in the regular season standings and taking down the Rangers in Round 1 of the playoffs.
The Devils’ window has only just opened, and they are poised to make several playoff runs with this group. While there are decisions to be made in the offseason with free agency and trades, several players are set to continue building on the Devils’ progress. Here are three New Jersey Devils to watch out for who have already impressed us early in their careers and will continue growing into stars in the 2023-24 season.
Honorable Mention: Jack Hughes, Center, 22
Jack Hughes isn’t one of the three players on this list because he’s already arrived. He was a first-overall draft pick and had an incredible breakout season, already placing him in the conversation for best in the league. But this list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning what he means to the Devils and their fans.
The alternate captain was an All-Star, breaking the franchise record with 99 points. Hughes goes all out, giving his heart and hustle (and a tooth) to the game. He was nominated for the 2023 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship and conduct, as well as the 2023 King Clancy Memorial Trophy, due to his impact on the community in the Newark area. And let’s not forget Hughes fighting with Sebastian Aho in Round 2 of the playoffs. Hughes earned a lot of respect by standing up for himself.
Hughes is beloved in New Jersey. In February, he had a rare public autograph signing hosted by Sports Minded Unlimited in Warren, NJ. Tickets for the event sold out in about 90 seconds because, well, Jack Hughes. He’s already a superstar. Expect Hughes to continue standing out in the NHL.