The New Jersey Devils locked up 2019 first overall pick Jack Hughes with an eight-year contract extension that carries an average annual value of $8 million, the team announced Tuesday.
The 20-year-old’s production has been slow to start his career. He tallied 21 points in 61 games during a turbulent rookie season, followed by a 31-point effort over 56 contests a year ago.
Hughes drastically improved between his rookie and sophomore campaigns, though.
Hughes was a popular choice as a breakout candidate this campaign, and he began the season strong, recording two goals and an assist in two contests. However, he then suffered a dislocated shoulder that caused him to miss 17 games. He’s returning Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks.
The extension, which begins in 2022-23 after his entry-level contract expires, will make Hughes tied for the 15th-highest-paid center in the league, per CapFriendly.
The Devils now have their top two centers locked in through 2026-27, as 2017 first overall pick Nico Hischier signed a seven-year extension at $7.25 million per season in 2019. Dougie Hamilton, their No. 1 defenseman, is also signed through 2027-28 with a $9-million AAV.