The entire New Jersey Devils organization is probably breathing a collective sigh of relief after the injury report for Jack Hughes came back.
Before facing the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday, Devils head coach Lindy Ruff announced that Hughes would be out week to week with an upper-body injury. The star forward remained in New Jersey with the team's athletic staff.
After generating a grade-a scoring chance against the St. Louis Blues on Friday, the 22-year-old lost his footing and crashed hard into the boards. At first glance, it looked like Hughes was going to miss significant time.
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Ruff said the Devils feel "fortunate" the diagnosis wasn't worse.
Hughes has looked like an early Hart Trophy candidate so far in 2023-24. The 2019 first-overall selection is tied for the league lead in points (20), boasts a league-high 15 assists and sits second in power-play points (12). You could make a pretty sound argument in favor of Hughes being a top 10 — maybe even top five — NHL talent. And it’s not just because of his torrid two-points-per-game pace through the first 10 contests of the season.
Hughes is one of the most dynamic skaters in the league and his abilities off the rush are probably second to only Connor McDavid. Since the start of the 2022-23 season, only McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and David Pastrnak have recorded more primary points per 60 minutes than Hughes (3.24).
The Devils own a 6-3-1 record through their first 10 games. Hughes isn't the only key New Jersey forward sidelined, as Nico Hischier hasn’t played since Oct. 27 against Buffalo due to an upper-body injury of his own.
"Every team has to deal with injuries. We're dealing with a couple of key injuries," Ruff said. "At the same time, it's a great opportunity for other guys to step in."