Jack Hughes has visibly struggled in his first few NHL video games, inflicting frustration for New Jersey’s prized teenager. However historical past has proven that many first total picks have began off chilly earlier than turning into top-end NHL stars.Jack Hughes|Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesYou’d be mendacity if you happen to stated you believed Victor Olofsson, Sam Lafferty, Ilya Mikheyev and Trevor Moore could be the forwards dominating the rookie scoring race early on over the likes of New Jersey Devils heart Jack Hughes and New York Rangers winger Kaapo Kakko.
The primary two picks within the 2019 draft have struggled out of the gate, with Kakko recording only one objective via three video games for the Rangers. Hughes? He’s been snakebitten, failing to register a degree in six video games with a Devils group nonetheless chasing their first victory. In case you’re Hughes, a younger 18-year-old adjusting to the professional sport, there’s good cause to be pissed off. He couldn’t have come a lot nearer to scoring than his double-post escapade towards Florida on Monday, with Hughes slamming his stick in irritation after what ought to have been a positive objective.
Ought to the Devils be frightened? An Zero-Four-2 file via six video games would counsel there are greater underlying points with the group itself, however in terms of Hughes, it’s far too early to hit the panic button. In actuality, he’s removed from the one No. 1 prospect to battle out of the gate.
Take Hughes’ star teammate, Taylor Corridor, for instance. The No. 1 decide by the Edmonton Oilers in 2010, Corridor wanted eight video games for his first objective and had simply 4 via 20 video games in 2010-11. Seven seasons later, Corridor took house the Hart Trophy because the NHL’s high participant with the Devils, cementing himself as among the finest gamers in New Jersey through the post-Dynasty period. Now, the problem is protecting him in New Jersey and avoiding the open market this summer time, one thing the group hopes having Hughes within the fray will help with.
Two seasons earlier than Corridor hit the scene, Steven Stamkos had a tough begin of his personal. With 396 targets in 751 video games, solely Alex Ovechkin (500) has extra tallies than Stamkos since his rookie season in 2008-09. Given his pure goal-scoring capacity, it’s simple to gloss over the truth that it took Stamkos eight video games to place up his first help and 9 video games to attain his first objective. Actually, Stamkos had simply 4 targets in 2008 whereas enjoying lower than 10 minutes an evening on many events. A part of that was because of disagreements with Lightning coach Barry Melrose on the time, however Stamkos went on to put up 19 factors in his last 20 video games (Melrose was passed by then) and have become the second-youngest participant to attain a hat-trick when he did so 10 days after turning 19.
When Hughes was only a 12 months outdated, 2002 No. 1 decide Rick Nash scored in Columbus’ opening sport earlier than happening an 11-game goal-less drought to kick off 2002-03. He’d rating two targets in Recreation 13, however would go on to attain simply seven targets in his first 36 video games. The subsequent season? He led the NHL with 41, giving the Blue Jackets its first star participant within the early days of the franchise. Nash by no means gained the Stanley Cup earlier than retiring in 2015, however he completed with 5 seasons of 60-plus factors and was a three-time 40-goal scorer.
However maybe essentially the most well-known instance of a younger star failing to seek out their footing early on is Joe Thornton, who wanted 22 video games to file his first objective, and 32 to file his second level of the season in 1997-98 after Boston made him the No. 1 decide just a few months previous to the marketing campaign. Thornton had simply three targets and 7 factors that season earlier than turning into among the finest playmakers within the NHL, highlighted by a 96-assist, 125-point Hart Trophy season in 2005-06, break up between Boston and San Jose. Since coming into the league, Thornton is the one participant to file 90-plus assists in a season, doing it a second time in 2006-07 as a member of the Sharks.
The argument that Hughes wasn’t prepared for the NHL as an undersized ahead has been mentioned at size and, initially, that’s comprehensible. There’s an actual chance that Hughes would have benefited from a while within the AHL to regulate to the professional sport after years of slaughtering inferior expertise with USA Hockey’s Nationwide Crew Growth Program. Hughes is simply 5-foot-10 and 170 kilos and whereas he doesn’t completely draw back from bodily play, he doesn’t precisely meet the factors of an influence ahead.
Issues can’t worsen in New Jersey. The membership remains to be chasing its first power-play objective, and solely Nikita Gusev, Kyle Palmieri and Blake Coleman are repeat goal-scorers this season. This isn’t a Hughes challenge, it is a systematical challenge, one the place the general basis of the roster is flawed. Gusev’s demotion to the fourth line isn’t what the Devils had been planning on this season, and enjoying Hughes with Jesper Boqvist and Wayne Simmonds on the third line isn’t very best, both. At this level, Hughes is a set-up man and not using a finisher.
So no, don’t be frightened about an 18-year-old struggling to provide in his first few video games. He didn’t grow to be a No. 1 decide by chance. Because the Devils enhance, so will Hughes, and his alternatives will come. His gradual begin isn’t because of an absence of attempting: Hughes has 12 pictures in six video games and has seen his ice time bumped as much as 17 minutes an evening prior to now few video games. Not everybody could be like Auston Matthews and rating 4 targets of their first sport; Hughes’ time will come.
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Tags: new jersey devils, nhlConnect: Concerning the AuthorSteven EllisSteven Ellis is a Digital Content material Producer for The Hockey Information. He spends his free time listening to music you would not like and watches obnoxiously-long motor races.