This summer’s No.1 overall pick is still searching for his first career NHL point but will find himself on the New Jersey Devils’ top-line on Thursday.
With Nico Hischier sidelined with an upper-body injury, Jack Hughes will skate between Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri against the New York Rangers. Not only is this a huge upgrade in linemates but Hughes should also see an uptick in ice-time (15:50 ATOI through six games). The 18-year-old has played fairly well so far, registering 12 shots (2.0 SOG/gm) and carrying a +1.9 CorsiFor% relative to his Devils’ teammates. However, it has been his 3.3 on-ice SH% that has kept him with a goose-egg in the assist and points departments.
Tonight he will go head-to-head with Kaapo Kakko, the player that went right behind him in the draft. What better time for a promotion and a breakout game for Hughes. If he can’t record a point while playing with Hall and Palmieri against a Rangers team giving up 35.3 shots per game (most in the NHL) and that are starting their backup goalie. Then it might be time to start worrying.
As for Hischier, he left Monday’s game against the Florida Panthers after logging just 5:22 TOI and did not return. He was then absent from Wednesday’s practice and head coach John Hynes was quick to rule him out of Thursday’s contest. Consider the third-year centre as day-to-day until the Devils release a more definitive timetable.