The New Jersey Devils appear to be back in shape, having points in their last seven games and are 8-2-1 in their last 11. That puts them comfortably in a playoff and tough spot for first place in the Metropolitan Division with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Much of that is due to the play of Jack Hughes, who currently has 10 goals in his last 10 games, and 30 on the year with 58 points in just 46 games. Coming off of a 2021-22 campaign where he had 56 points in 49 games, Frank Seravalli and Mike McKenna discussed whether or not Hughes was an NHL superstar.
Mike McKenna: He better have it, I’m not sure everyone realizes that yet. Part of that is playing out in New Jersey, a market that goes under the radar. The team hasn’t been good for a long time, and they’re taking over the Rangers and Islanders. I’ve played it before, I know what it is.
But think of Hughes. He is ninth in league scoring, sixth in goals, he has already scored 30 and only six on the power play. What Hughes is doing 5-on-5 with the puck can really boost the Devils game. He is 12 points ahead of Jesper Bratt, the team’s second scorer. It shows how good he is at 5-on-5, the puck is on his blade. And he’s a finisher, he can bury.
But let’s look at it this way. Kirill Kaprizov, is he a superstar for the Minnesota Wild? Absolutely it is. Well, Hughes’ numbers favor Kaprizov’s this year in some ways. I mean, Hughes shoots the puck well, he’s quick, he’s slippery, but there’s no big one-timers. He doesn’t really have amazing hands showing up all the time. He just plays smart, smooth hockey that leads to the goals.
I don’t think he’s optically as much of a superstar as some players, but the way he controls and the points he produces-
Frank Seravalli: Why isn’t he as much of an optical superstar as some players?
Mike McKenna: If you’re Ovechkin or Stamkos, you clap punctuals, everyone says « Wow, this guy is a superstar, what he does is special ». Even Tage Thompson now, who kind of hit that spectrum, he sticks around everybody, and goes and scores, whereas Hughes beats people with his speed more often, quick movement and that’s in the net.
So I think it’s a combination of how he puts his points together, and also being in Jersey that he just didn’t get the accolades and get to that level of superstar among the base of fans.
Frank Seravalli: Well, he should, because you think that’s the way he played. By the way, this contract is looking very good for the New Jersey Devils. A lot of people wondered, « Why did you sign him so early? » But I think you watch this season, and you see why, because he already exceeds that type of production justifying an $8 million salary.
But is it something to do with its setting? And it’s not a knock on him, but I feel like a lot of people are watching Jack Hughes, and I’ve heard this comment from league executives, which is, ‘I love watching Jack Hughes play, but I still feel like he’s one shot away from being out for a long time. »
Mike McKenna: They probably said the same thing about Gretzky, right? I sometimes had the same concern, but this year he was solid, he was able to be in training as needed, he produces, it’s as simple as that.
You can watch the full episode here…