Jack Is Back!!!
With New Jersey Devils superstar forward Jack Hughes making his return debut versus the San Jose Sharks at The Prudential Center. The Devils look to add that extra dynamic and the two-way threat Hughes showed in the first four periods he played at the start of the 2021-22 season. It is also only a matter of when General Manager, Tom Fitzgerald extends Hughes to an extension per Kevin Weekes of NHL Network.
It has been a mixed windfall seeing the Devils handling the adversity without Hughes in the lineup. Nothing was easy for the Devils to operate without their speedy, and very slick superb offensive dynamo out for 17 games. The Devils are looking at a wild card spot hunt without Hughes and were only 2 points out after the win against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Forecasting Jack Hughes’ Production
For fantasy hockey players who have claimed Hughes or reactivated him, he’s a buy and holds type player and asset that will start paying off dividends for your team. Don’t expect him roaring out of the gates in his first 5 games. Coach Lindy Ruff did say before the game against the Sharks that he has pegged Hughes 15 to 18 minutes tonight thanks to the offensive skill, and the depth on all 4 lines on this Devils roster as I predicted before the season.
If for some reason Hughes picks off where he left off before his dislocated shoulder he’s looking at 96 points max if he keeps scoring 1.5 points on average a game in 64 total games played. In a perfect elite-level projection Hughes would need to yield 64 goals and 32 assists. There is doubt that that happens but seeing Hughes break the 35 points mark and go between 70-96 points is absolute dynamite. Realistically outside the numbers on average look to Hughes going 30 goals-40 assists or 25 goals and 71 assists due to him being more of a playmaker.
Hughes’ instincts as a player are to create or socially distance defenders with his hockey IQ, and uses that spatial creativity to set up the play ahead of the current play. Teammates playing on Hughes’ line will feed off his quick breakdowns of how opponents play utilizing his instincts and The Art of War looking to outsmart the weakest links. His main job is to utilize that speed and being able to terrorize opponents with that and his quick passes and his silky smooth stickhandling is also a key to why he is gonna increase his shots on goal.
Benefits of Jack Hughes In The Lineup
Players like Dawson Mercer, Andreas Johnsson, Jesper Bratt, and Yegor Sharangovich will have a lot less pressure on their shoulders with the benefit of Hughes on the ice knowing he can be that extra lethal weapon and an important cog in the offensive machine. If Hughes goes on to have a banner comeback season he could be up for comeback player of the year.
Maintaining Hughes back in the lineup is an internal addition that saved Tom Fitzgerald a lot of time and resources from making an external move to help bolster the offense. Having Hughes getting locked in longer under Tom Fitzgerald and being one of the important key pieces he long term of the team. Knowing how well Jack is as a player and a person and having his brother Luke Hughes dominating on defense for the Michigan Wolverines at such a high level in the D1 NCAA league is great to have him coming soon to New Jersey.
Near & Long Term Outlook
The best is yet to come for Hughes and the Devils and with a solid core of players up front on offense, and defense the future is only going to get brighter and the number of games the Devils win will put them in a position to become buyers overtime at the deadline, and still add top talent throughout the NHL Draft, and external acquisitions. Jersey’s team could make a play for some trades before or at the NHL trade deadline in March.
We already saw what happens when players like Hughes, Yegor Sharangovich, and Nico Hischier made it easier for Fitzgerald to attract a big defenseman like Dougie Hamilton after adding Ryan Graves via trade last summer. Can New Jersey keep plugging in top-caliber players from other markets and become more attractive to play hockey in? The answer remains to be seen but players like Johnny Gaudreau should be taking a good look into inking with Jersey’s team.
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