NEWARK — Jack Hughes will be tormenting opposing NHL defenses as a member of the Devils into the next decade.
Hughes signed an eight-year, $64 million extension that will keep him in New Jersey through the 2029-30 season, Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald announced Tuesday night.
I’m really fortunate to be here for eight more years at least," Hughes said. " I’m grateful to David Blitzer, Josh Harris and the ownership group and Tom Fitzgerald. I’m really thankful. When I step back and get away from the game, it’s a really exciting day for my family and myself."
The team's 20-year-old star center is in the third and final year of his entry-level contract that was paying him an average annual salary of $3.75 million while carrying a $925,000 cap hit, according to CapFriendly.com.
"Today is a big day for the New Jersey Devils," Fitzgerald said. "This contract shows the commitment Jack and his family have made to us, and how the organization — myself, David Blitzer and Josh Harris — are in turn committed to them. We are building something unique and special here, with Jack being a core piece of that."
In his fledgling NHL career, Hughes, the 2019 No. 1 pick, has 20 goals and 35 assists in 119 games entering Tuesday night's action. He was second on the Devils in scoring last season with 31 points on 11 goals and 20 assists and tied for second in the NHL with 56 takeaways.
"Obviously it’s his confidence, and that’s what you love about Jack," Fitzgerald said. "He’s very confident about his ability, and he should be. He’s a great player and we think he can be one of the elite players in the league. As he grows and develops and matures as a player, the sky’s the limit for this young man."
Tuesday was an eventful day for Hughes as he also returned to the Devils' lineup after missing 17 games due to a dislocated shoulder.
Coach Lindy Ruff said Hughes' strong play early in his career and his potential make him worth of the big extension.
"I think that shows what we think of Jack and where he can be as a player and what I’ve seen in his body of work so far," Ruff said. "He’s a tremendous competitor, a great kid. He’s got this attitude that it’s never say die. He always wants to be out there, and I think he’s the type of player that will easily grow and make all of the other players around him better."
Hughes' extension is the latest Devils' commitment to keeping their young core intact for the foreseeable future. Nico Hischier, the team's 22-year-old captain, is in the second year of the seven-year, $50.75 million contract he signed in October 2019.
The team also inked defenseman Dougie Hamilton to a seven-year, $63 million contract in the offseason.
"We have to thank David Blitzer and Josh Harris for their commitment to the organization and improving and getting better," Fitzgerald said. "I think my staff has really done a great job of identifying talent and also trying to educate players from the outside what New Jersey’s all about, where we’re going, what we’re trying to do, really sell our brand here and how special it is and how special it’s going to be and what a great place to live."
The Devils' future is bright with the continued development of Hughes and Hischier, along with rookie Dawson Mercer, 2020 first-round pick Alexander Holtz and fourth overall pick Luke Hughes, Jack's younger brother, who was named to the preliminary roster for the U.S. National Junior Team on Tuesday.
"First and foremost, we want to draft well, we want to develop well, we want to create an environment that people want to come to," Fitzgerald said. "When they get here, understand what the standards are and what it needs to be to play here and put this sweater on."
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Jack Hughes contract: NJ Devils announce major extension