While New Jersey Devils star Jack Hughes draws comparisons to Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks, he’s not the second coming.
Jack Hughes of the New Jersey Devils may have had his much-anticipated debut during the 2019-20 season, but it wasn’t all the NHL had expected from the American-born forward who was prophesized as the second coming of Patrick Kane from the Chicago Blackhawks.
Naturally, immense pressure will be placed on your shoulders when people start to call you the next Kane – a guy who just so happened to be the face of a modern dynasty in professional sports.
Moving up and down on the roster last season, Hughes finished his rookie year playing in 61 games for New Jersey while scoring seven goals and 14 assists for 21 points while maintaining a disheartening -26 plus-minus.
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These numbers are far from the 21 goals, and 51 assists in the 82-games played that Kane registered in his rookie year with the Chicago Blackhawks.
As everyone knows through sports, however, player comparisons are hardly accurate, as every individual is unique to their own abilities.
It’s wrong to call Hughes the next Kane because that’s just way too much to ask from a 19-year old – a kid. Expecting him to be the same player who won the Stanley Cup three times, the Conn Smythe Trophy (Playoff MVP), Hart Ross Trophy (league MVP), and others while making the All-Star game in nine different seasons is entirely unfair and unreasonable.
The similarities are just this: Hughes and Kane stand at a similar, smaller frame, as both come in at 5-foot-10 with some 10 pound differential in weight. Both players have incredible puck skills and explosive skating, in addition to having insatiable playmaking skills on the ice. Kane has a far superior shot, while Hughes is a tad more tuned in his role in the defensive zone.
Both are also American-born skaters and are products of the USNTDP. That’s as far as their similarities go. Hughes doesn’t have to wear the same clothes, style his hair the same way, or even like the same color as Patty Kane. He can live for himself.
We don’t know if Hughes will be a 100-plus point scorer in the NHL because he’s only played one season that was cut short due to COVID-19 on a team that led a 28-29-12 record in 69-games played. Hughes doesn’t have to lead his team in points as a rookie to prove he’ll be a good player in the league.
Additionally, the modern NHL is a lot different than it was 10-years ago. 18/19-year olds aren’t expected to play right out of the gate anymore, as teams typically want them to take a year or more to develop and learn how to swim before diving into the deep end. For a player to debut as a 19-year old who’s factory new is enough alone to tell you that the kid is special.
Get away from the player comparisons and just look at what Jack Hughes really is: A highly-skilled, explosive forward who has the potential to be something great in the NHL. Will he score 100 points in a season? Maybe, but your guess is as good as anyone’s.
Will he win the Stanley Cup? Hopefully, but again, there’s not a single person on Earth who knows the future because if they did, they wouldn’t be wasting their time talking about hockey.
Let Jack Hughes be Jack Hughes and nobody else. He’s his own person, so let’s all just sit back and enjoy the ride as he paves his own path towards becoming a professional hockey player on his terms and not ours.