The Devils introduced No. 1 overall pick Jack Hughes to New Jersey on Tuesday, even though he is already sharing the spotlight.
“Adding a talent like Jack Hughes on Friday night and Saturday, P.K. Subban, obviously I think the Devils are back in business,” general manager Ray Shero said from Newark, N.J.
With 2017-18 MVP Taylor Hall expected to return to form after an injury-marred campaign, 2017 No. 1 pick Nico Hischier continuing his development and leading scorer Kyle Palmieri playing his best hockey, the Devils have a shot to do something in a league where the St. Louis Blues come out of nowhere to win the Stanley Cup.
Soft spoken, confident
Devils majority owner Josh Harris can’t wait to the season to start, adding Devils’ fans are used to winning Stanley Cups – the last was in 2003 — and now is the time to start doing it again.
“Jack joining the franchise represents another turn in our goal to be elite,” Harris said at a news conference for Hughes at the Prudential Center. “We said that we’re here not to do anything other than consistently compete and ultimately win the Stanley Cup.”
With parents Jim and Ellen sitting in the front row, the 18-year-old Hughes was soft spoken, confident and composed speaking on a stage that included Harris and Shero.
WATCH | Jack Hughes goes No. 1 to New Jersey:
The Florida-born Hughes said he had no doubt he would be playing next season in the NHL for the Devils and he hopes to play a creative game.
I asked Cory Schneider about Hughes’ poise, composure for an 18yo. His response is pure gold: “Thinking back to this time in my life, as an 18yo in the summer, I was probably thinking about going to Boston College and wondering if my brother could give me his fake ID.”
Hughes hasn’t stopped going since the draft. He returned to New Jersey with Shero, Harris and his parents on a private jet and spent the next few days making media appearances. He attended the New York Yankees game against Toronto on Monday night, sitting for 30 minutes with Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson and actor Adam Sandler.
He is eager now to return to suburban Toronto, where he grew up, and begin preparations for an 82-game season against men, and being a part of a team.
The 170-pound playmaking centre mixed poise, drive, and sheer skating ability to score 74 goals and 154 assists in 110 games with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program.
It will be interesting to see what he does with the Devils. Hischier had 20 goals and 32 assists as a rookie.
Hughes doesn’t see himself as competing with Hischier for the job as the top-line centre.
Room for more moves
“I think to win you have to have 1A and 1B,” said Hughes, who will wear No. 86 with the Devils. “No team wins with just one really good centre. Travis Zajac has been a really good centre for a long time and I think the Devils are in a really good spot. In the NHL, I feel whoever I play with will be a really good player.”
Coach John Hynes is looking forward to using all his new talent.
“It’s exciting,” Hynes said. “It’s what you want. You want guys to come in and give you a chance to win and coach some excellent players.”
And who is to say the Devils are done? They still have $25 million US available in cap space.
“I feel with the pieces we have at this moment, we are a much better team than we were on Thursday,” goaltender Cory Schneider said. “That’s encouraging.”