Jack Hughes is not just another prospect. The New Jersey Devils have released a short video to announce his three-year entry-level contract, which will pay him the maximum amount of salary and performance bonuses. That means his base cap hit will be $925K, though he could earn up to $2.85MM more in bonuses depending on how well he acclimates to the NHL.
Hughes, the first overall pick in June’s draft, is going to walk right onto the Devils roster from day one meaning his contract will expire in 2022. The 18-year old forward should form a dynamic center duo with 2017 first overall pick Nico Hischier who has already developed into a premiere two-way option. The pair should give the Devils a core to build around for the next decade, especially if they can get Taylor Hall (another first overall pick) signed long-term before he hits the unrestricted free agent market next summer.
The addition of Hughes should only help that goal, as he has shown himself to be an elite playmaker at every level so far. The 5’11” 170-lbs Hughes broke several records at the USNTDP, putting up 190 points over his two years there. He has dominated on the international stage at the U18 level and even held his own among NHL competition at the recent IIHF World Championship. Even if he is a tad undersized, his elusive skating and awareness have allowed him to avoid physical contact like other small NHL stars while still finding room to create for himself and his teammates.
It’s not clear exactly where Hughes will start in the New Jersey lineup, but plugging him in along with Wayne Simmonds and P.K. Subban this summer has dramatically changed the look of the Devils. The team still has work to do with several restricted free agents, but without many long-term commitments or bad contracts, they’re set up to turn the corner on their rebuild and start competing for the playoffs once again.