NEWARK, N.J. — New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes became the first Florida-born player in NHL history to score 30 goals in a season over the weekend.
Hughes, born in Orlando, grabbed his 30th goal early in Sunday’s overtime win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
He also assisted on Dougie Hamilton’s game-winning overtime goal.
Hughes more than likely would have hit this mark last season, but he was limited to 49 games - and therefore only 26 goals - due to injury.
Now, the 21-year-old is in the midst of a breakout with the New Jersey Devils, with 30 goals and 28 assists through 46 games. That puts him on pace for 53 goals and 103 points, health permitting.
Locked on Devils host Trey Matthews recently pinpointed a November hat trick against the Washington Capitals as a turning point for Hughes.
“After that, you just unleashed the beast,” Matthews said. “Jack Hughes was able to rack up 15 points in 13 games in December despite the Devils’ struggles, he was recently named 2nd star of the week by the NHL, and he’s going to Florida for the All-Star Game.”
Indeed, Hughes began the season with only 8 points in October, but ranks fourth in goals and seventh in total points among all NHL players since Nov. 1.
Matthews argued Hughes has been so good and has so consistently taken his game to the next level that he could push his name into the Hart Trophy race for the NHL’s Most Valuable Player, although Connor McDavid likely has that wrapped up already.
Hughes is an emerging superstar, and the 2019 first overall pick will soon become the first player born in Florida to skate in more than one NHL All-Star Game.
The Orlando native also played last year, but this one will be ezra special seeing as it's being played in Sunrise.
Hughes is also the second player in Devils history to reach the 30-goal mark before his 22nd birthday. Brendan Shanahan reached the milestone on March 29, 1990.