For Devils’ fans, the moment they have been waiting for is finally here, as defenseman Luke Hughes will make his playoff debut in Game Three against the Carolina Hurricanes. Unfortunately for the New Jersey Devils, this comes with some unfortunate news, as Hughes will be filling in for defenseman Ryan Graves, who is out with an upper-body injury.
The speed that Hughes brings to the table to New Jersey’s back end will undoubtedly be a benefit to a team that has been unable to put together much offense in the second round of the playoffs this year. When asked about what Hughes offers the Devils, head coach Lindy Ruff said, “We know he’s going to skate. He got a little taste at the end of the year. We feel the skating can help us. We’re excited to see him get in and play.”
Averaging over 16 minutes a night in his two games with New Jersey during the regular season, Hughes scored one goal and one assist. Spending most of his season finishing off his career at the University of Michigan, the 2021 fourth-overall pick put together the best season of his collegiate career, scoring 10 goals and 38 assists in 39 games, helping lead his team to the 2023 NCAA Frozen Four.
As the Devils find themselves down two games to none against the Metropolitan Division champion Hurricanes, New Jersey definitely has a tall task ahead of them. As they toe the line of playoff hockey desperation, Hughes will be an exciting player to add to the mix for the Devils.
- Tom Gulitti of the NHL reports that Antti Raanta will travel with the Hurricanes to New Jersey. In Game Two, the netminder was unable to serve as backup to Frederik Andersen, due to an illness. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour still says the netminder isn’t feeling great but is feeling good enough to travel with the team for Game Three. In five starts so far in this year’s playoffs, Raanta holds a 3-2-0 record, carrying a .906 SV% and a 2.59 GAA.
- In a recent article summarizing the end of the season for the Tampa Bay Lightning, writer Eduardo A. Encina of the Tampa Bay Times adds an interesting note about the Lightning’s pending unrestricted free agents heading into the offseason. Although already signing trade deadline acquisition Michael Eyssimont to a contract extension yesterday, it appears that General Manager Julien BriseBois has an interest in retaining all of the Lightning’s soon-to-be free agents, as he has reached out to all of their agents already. Players such as Alex Killorn, Corey Perry, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ian Cole, and Brian Elliott are all slated to hit the open market on July 1st.