The No. 1 overall pick from the 2019 NHL Entry Draft was scheduled to become a free agent at the end of the 2021-22 season. He will now make an average annual value of $8 million, a huge jump from his current salary of $832,500. The contract begins in 2022-23 and will look like this: 2022-23: $9 million, 2023-2026: $8.5 million, 2026-27: $8 million, 2027-28: $7.5 million, and 2028-30: $7 million.
"I'm so excited to sign this deal for myself and for my family," Hughes said in a press release. "I love being in New Jersey and I love playing in New Jersey. I wouldn't want to play anywhere else, and we are really building something special. I believe in what we are doing here, and we have a great chance to be successful for a long time. This contract shows that this team is extremely invested in me and I'm also really dedicated to this organization. I want to thank Tom Fitzgerald, David Blitzer, Josh Harris, and everyone with the New Jersey Devils for this opportunity."
The 20-year-old will return to the lineup on Tuesday night against the San Jose Sharks for the first time in 17 games after suffering a separated shoulder on Oct. 19. In just two games this season, Hughes has scored two goals (including one game-winner) and recorded an assist.
He's recorded 20 goals and 35 assists in 119 career games over three seasons in New Jersey. He had a rough rookie season, but turned it around in 2020-21 and showed why he's a top young talent. Hughes led the Devils with 142 shots on goal and finished second on the team in points last season. He also finished tied for second in the NHL in takeaways with 56, was tied for first amongst centers, and finished first at center in takeaways per 60 minutes (3.14).
Hughes was the franchise's second first-overall pick, having selected Nico Hischier No. 1 overall in 2017. Prior to being drafted by the Devils, he played for the U.S. National Team Development Program (USNTDP) and has represented the United States twice at the International Ice Hockey Federation's (IIHF) U18 World Junior Championships in 2018 and 2019. Hughes was the captain of Team USA in 2019 that won silver, and was named the tournament's MVP after recording nine goals and 11 assists over seven games.