The Devils on Tuesday rewarded their 2019 No. 1 draft pick with an eight-year, $64 million deal, announcing the move hours before the young center returned to the ice against the Sharks after being out since Oct. 19 with a separated shoulder.
"I mean, obviously frustrating about the game,'' Hughes said after the team's 5-2 loss to San Jose, during which he had one shot in 17:31 of ice time. "But aside from the game, really fortunate to be here for eight more years at least and really thankful to David Blitzer, Josh Harris, the ownership group and Tom Fitzgerald. Really thankful and when I step back away from the game, it's a really exciting day for my family and myself."
His new deal begins in the 2022-23 season. The 20-year-old had been scheduled to become a restricted free agent after this campaign.
Blitzer said the franchise is committed to the smooth-skating Hughes.
"We all know what Jack means to the team on and off the ice -- he's an unbelievable player and a fantastic person,'' Blitzer said. "His future is incredibly bright and he will be a pillar for our franchise for years to come.''
Hughes has two goals and one assist in two games this year. In his first two seasons, along with the two games played this year, he has 55 points (20 goals, 35 assists) in 119 NHL games.
Hughes earned 31 of those points in 56 games played in 2020-21, where he scored 11 goals and had 20 assists. He finished tied for second in the league with 56 takeaways.
He finished second on the Devils in points last season, and led the club with 142 shots on goal. He was the only forward who played in all 56 games.
Hughes said that he is excited to be part of the team's maturing core.
"It's good for our fans; they look at us and they see a young, promising team,'' he said. "We're all pretty competitive guys in the locker room.''
Hughes represented the United States twice at the world juniors in 2018 and 2019. His younger brother, Luke, was New Jersey's first-round selection, and the fourth overall in the 2021 NHL draft. The defenseman is currently playing at Michigan. His older brother, Quinn, is a defenseman for the Vancouver Canucks.
"He's a tremendous competitor, a great kid,'' Devils coach Lindy Ruff added about his star forward. ''He's got this attitude that it's never say die and he always wants to be out there."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.