The New Jersey Devils’ selection of US-born Jack Hughes with the first overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft could help lure new American fans to the sport, according to Devils executive and goaltending legend Martin Brodeur.
“I think he’s going to change our organization. He’s a tremendous talent. He’s a young American,” Brodeur said during a FOX Business Network appearance alongside Hughes. “Obviously, we’re trying to grow the sport and so for us, having our fans be able to cheer on somebody from their own [country], and we’re trying to get better, trying to get to a Stanley Cup championship-caliber team. He’s going to be a big part of the puzzle going forward.”
Hughes, 18, is an Orlando, Florida native who set a USA Hockey National Team Development Program record by scoring 228 points over a two-year period. A 5-foot-10 center, Hughes became the eighth American to be selected first overall in the draft.
Under the NHL’s rules for entry-level contracts, Hughes can sign a three-year contract worth a maximum of roughly $11 million when factoring in bonuses. However, he told Varney that he hasn’t even thought about his newfound wealth.
“I wouldn’t say an instant millionaire, but it was a surreal moment,” Hughes said. “It was unbelievable. I haven’t even digested it yet.”
A 2018 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee, Brodeur was a 10-time NHL All-Star with the Devils before joining the team’s front office as executive vice president of business development. Brodeur said the acquisition of Hughes and a recent trade for star defenseman PK Subban should provide a boost to the team’s business.
Brodeur said Hughes has a “good shot” of earning a spot on the Devils’ opening roster for the 2019-20 NHL season.