Jack Hughes is already making history for the New Jersey Devils.
The 18-year-old phenom, taken first overall at last weekend’s NHL draft, will become the first Devils player and only the 14th in NHL history to wear No. 86 on his sweater, as was revealed at his introductory news conference in Newark on Tuesday.
“It’s a pretty cool number. It’s a high number, so it’s a little flashy,” said Hughes, a dynamic center from Orlando, Florida.
Nothing like seeing your @NHL jersey for the first time.
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Devils general manager Ray Shero even noted the rareness of his jersey choice.
“This is only his training camp number,” he said, handing Hughes his jersey at the news conference. “I’m kidding, I’m kidding. It’s his real number. You can start selling them.”
Hughes wore two numbers for most of his career with the U.S. national development program and in international play, and both of them had connections to his family.
“No. 6 is the family number. Everyone has worn it: uncles, aunts, cousins, brothers,” Hughes said on the Devils All-Access podcast.
He also wore No. 43. It was a number his older brother, Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes, wore during his U.S. developmental days and passed on to Jack, who said he had passed it on to younger brother Luke Hughes. In fact, Jack said he saw a No. 43 Devils jersey with his name on it at their draft party the night he was selected.
Instead, he chose to wear No. 86 in the NHL. Hughes said he previously wore the number in “minor-midget” hockey for two years and decided to bring it back for his pro career — mostly because he knew his preferred No. 6 was already on the back of 36-year-old Devils captain Andy Greene.
“Well, Greener is No. 6, obvious. Probably not the best start if I ask the captain to change his number,” Hughes said.