Devils’ Hughes returns after missing 17 games

NHL

The New Jersey Devils are getting a big boost with the return of center Jack Hughes to the lineup Tuesday night against the Sharks.

Hughes has been out since Oct. 19 after separating his shoulder. He had played only two games but had two goals and an assist.

“He’s a very important piece on our team — his puck possession, his playmaking ability, the speed he adds to the team,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “You know, we’ve missed that part. Just great to have him back. He’s excited. We’re all excited to have him back.”

The Devils are 9-6-4 this season, good for sixth in the Metropolitan Division. Hopes were high entering the season after the team signed premier defensive free agent Dougie Hamilton to go with the young core.

Hughes was expected to take the next step in his third season after being a No. 1 overall draft pick. He had 21 points as an 18-year-old rookie and 31 points last season.

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