For prospects, cul­ture is key

The Morning Call - - VARSITY -

June. He joins a team that fea­tures two other No. 1 draft picks in Tay­lor Hall, who was se­lected first by the Oil­ers in the 2010 draft, and Nico His­chier, se­lected No. 1 by the Devils in 2017.

Noth­ing Hughes has done thus far should give Shero pause as the Devils pre­pare to open their sea­son host­ing the Jets on Fri­day.

The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Hughes dis­played how much of a com­peti­tor he’s in ex­press­ing how un­happy he was los­ing in his first NHL com­pet­i­tive set­ting — a 6-4 loss to the Sabres at a prospects tour­na­ment last month.

“We kind of got lucky to put four on the board, and only gave up six. Dis­ap­point­ing game,” Hughes said.

The young­ster re­sponded once the pre­sea­son be­gan by scor­ing twice, in­clud­ing the de­ci­sive goal, on a give-and-go with Nikita Gu­sev in a 4-3 over­time win in his pre­sea­son de­but against Bos­ton.

Devils de­fense­man P.K. Sub­ban was so im­pressed, he re­ferred to Hughes’ per­for­mance as “nasty.”

And the player who spent the last two years set­ting USA Hockey’s Na­tional Devel­op­ment Pro­gram’s scor­ing record fol­lowed up by scor­ing a break­away goal 34 sec­onds into a 4-2 win over the Rangers a few days later. Hughes fin­ished the pre­sea­son with three goals and an as­sist in four games.

BRUCE BEN­NETT/GETTY

The Devils made un­der­sized rookie cen­ter Jack Hughes the eighth Amer­i­can-born player taken first in the draft.

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