There may only be four regular season games left for the New Jersey Devils in 2022-23, and the Devils may already have a playoff berth clinched, but there’s still some business left to be taken care of. Home ice advantage is still on the line, as is the possibility of winning the Metropolitan Division. In terms of personal progress, Jack Hughes has a chance to do something special. He is six points shy of passing Patrik Elias’ record of 96 for sole possession of the Devils’ single season scoring record. He is also nine away from being the first Devil in NHL history to hit the century mark in a season.
We as fans have been in this situation somewhat recently, as Taylor Hall put up 93 points in 76 appearances while dragging the Devils into the playoffs in 2017-18. While the Devils scoring has been more balanced this season, Hughes now sees himself as the leading scorer with an opportunity to set records.
Hughes did hit a rough stretch when initially coming back from injury earlier this season, but more and more as the games have gone on the past couple of weeks, he has looked like himself. In the team’s last five contests, Jack has scored at a point per game pace, and in the team’s past seven contests, he has 10 points total. He has not scored a goal in the last five, so I would say he’s due to add to the 40 that he already has on the season, possibly as soon as tonight against a not so good Columbus Blue Jackets team. If it’s not Jack that’s scoring, others around him have begun to heat up again, so maybe he’ll just rack up nine more assist on his way to becoming the Devils’ first 100 point scorer.
Even if nine in four doesn’t seem attainable, six in four is well within reach, especially with a couple of matchups against underperforming teams still on the schedule. We could also see some teams (such as the Boston Bruins) resting players before they open their first round series, and the aforementioned underperforming teams giving significant ice time to minor league call ups. If either of those situations are the case, and the Devils decide not to rest Jack (which, if the division or home ice are still on the line, they shouldn’t) we could easily see him amass the needed point to pass Elias.
While it would be disappointing to not see the first triple digit point total in Devils’ history after the pace he was on earlier this season, I don’t think this will be Jack’s only shot at it. We forget at times that he’s a month shy of his 22nd birthday, not even in the prime of his career yet. If he’s a 90-something point player in his 21 year old season, imagine what he will be doing three to four years down the road. I understand if being disappointed if he finishes with 99 or fewer; I understand the additional layer of disappointment if he finishes with 95 or fewer. I just think it’s important to realize that unlike Hall’s 2017-18 total, we are probably not witnessing a career year for Jack Hughes. More than likely he will have more seasons like this one in the future; hopefully the quest for a new record and for triple digits ends this season, but if not, I think we’ll see Jack back around these totals (if not already having gotten to 100) this time next season.
What are your thoughts on Jack Hughes approaching a new Devils’ record and the team’s first 100 point season? Do you think he hits either mark in the final four games? If not this season, do you think he gets there next season with more experience under his belt? Leave any and all comments below and thanks as always for reading!