New Jersey Devils: Checking Luke Hughes' progress at the halfway point

Through 40 games this year, Luke Hughes has scored seven goals while adding 16 assists, rounding up his points total to 23, leading all rookie defensemen.

New Jersey Devils v Washington Capitals
New Jersey Devils v Washington Capitals / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

The NHL can be a brutal league for the young guns. There are unlimited amounts of “welcome to the show” moments every year that are basically funded by rookies getting embarrassed at least once during their first season. New Jersey Devils rookie defenseman Luke Hughes has run into some challenges in his rookie season with the Devils, but he has kept them to a minimum and has actually excelled more than most expected him to. 

After departing from the 2023 Frozen Four following Michigan's loss, Hughes took a flight straight to New Jersey to join his new crew as they concluded their regular season and prepared for the playoffs. Just two days after taking off the blue and gold sweater one last time, Hughes signed his entry-level contract and began acclimating with his new club. The short playing time Hughes got with New Jersey through the regular season and playoffs wasn't enough to remove his rookie status during the 2023-24 season. 

Through 40 games this year, Hughes has scored seven goals while throwing together 16 assists, rounding up his points total to 23, which leads all rookie defensemen. The closest rookie insight is Minnesota Wild defenseman Brock Faber. Faber has 20 points in 42 games. 

Aside from leading rookie defenseman in points, the fourth overall pick in the 2021 NHL draft also has another temporary achievement, and that is quarterbacking the Devils' first powerplay unit. While leading the powerplay, Hughes has three goals and eight assists on the man advantage, which is motoring the Devils to a 27.9% power play percentage and putting them fourth overall in the league. 

Hughes still has a lot to learn in the NHL, but his start has helped fund New Jersey as they seek a playoff spot and sit one spot out of the wildcard as of now. With the All-Star Break approaching, the Devils look to improve their record and keep it above .500%, which is doable as they sit at 22-15-3 right now. 

Hughes needs to continue to lock down the back end with the rest of the Devils defensive squad and keep giving the Devils chances in the next half of this season's crucial games.