The NHL announced it's first wave of All-Star Game participants on Thursday evening. One player was chosen from each and every team. Of course, there were obvious names on the roster. Connor McDavid is representing the Edmonton Oilers, and Connor Bedard is the only good thing coming out of Chicago. Auston Matthews is the Toronto Maple Leafs' pick, representing the home team as the All-Star Game is being held in Toronto.
Matthews is one of six former number-one overall picks in this year's game. He's joined by New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes. Hughes is expected to go to his third All-Star Game, and there's no real surprise here, either. He has 30 assists in 31 games. His helpers might get him to Toronto on their own, since he's close to one per game. Add in his 15 goals, and it's a no-brainer.
Many say Hughes is actually dealing with a rough stretch right now, but Hughes is still a superstar on this team. He has points in five-straight games, including a three-point performance against the Ottawa Senators on December 29th. He just had a hat trick three weeks ago. Hughes hasn't been the MVP-level scorer he was in October, but he still has 15 goals on the season.
Despite missing time, Hughes has as many goals as Sebastian Aho, Elias Pettersson, and one more goal than Connor McDavid. He's still in the top ten in the league in points with 45, and he's fourth in the league in points per game. Only Nathan MacKinnon, Nikita Kucherov, and McDavid are scoring more points per game. Those might be the three MVP candidates ahead of Hughes.
Now, New Jersey Devils fans have a chance to vote for more Devils to go to the All-Star Game. Do we want Luke Hughes to join his brothers for another "first" between the three? Should it be Tyler Toffoli, who has seamlessly made his presence known in the Devils' lineup after a trade with the Calgary Flames? What about Jesper Bratt, who might quietly be the Devils most underrated player? Of course, fellow former number-one pick Nico Hischier probably has the best case, with 20 points in 25 games while playing penalty kill and shutdown minutes.
For now, we celebrate Hughes, who is going to his third All-Star Game. He has a while to catch Scott Stevens. He went to 10 All-Star Games with the Devils. Yet, Hughes is well on his way to breaking that record.