Another first-overall pick is staying in the Garden State.
The New Jersey Devils have agreed to terms with centre Jack Hughes on an eight-year contract extension worth an average annual value of $8 million.
The specifics of the deal, such as its salary structure and trade protection, have yet to be released.
Hughes is one of the more peculiar first-overall picks in recent years.
The 20-year-old had a nightmare start to his big league career after jumping directly from the United States National Development Program to the NHL in 2018-20, racking up just 21 points in 61 games as a rookie and not even registering in the year-end Calder Trophy voting.
Hughes would enjoy somewhat of a breakout in his sophomore season, however, finishing the pandemic-shortened 2021 campaign with 31 points in 56 games while logging nearly 20 minutes of ice time per night.
It was exactly the step forward the Devils needed to see from their prized prospect, hoping it was the beginning of a steep upward trajectory in the years to come. Unfortunately, Hughes has played in just two games for the Devils this year, suffering a separated shoulder on October 19th that has caused him to miss the following 17 games.
Handing such a large and lucrative commitment to Hughes so early into his NHL career, and after only one partial burst of success is assuredly a risk for the Devils. The youngster has played in just 110 games, after all, over half of which were lackluster enough to generate questions as to whether he was even ready for the NHL level.
The Devils, however, are clearly betting on the immense talent that made Hughes the top pick in his draft class in 2019, and of which they saw for themselves last season.
With this extension locked in, the Devils now have a young core of Hughes and fellow first-overall pick Nico Hischier signed long-term, with other notable young players such as Jesper Bratt, Pavel Zacha, and Ty Smith in the fold, too.