Jack Hughes believes he’s ‘really close’ to making return to Devils’ lineup

Heading into the All-Star break, Devils star center Jack Hughes had missed the team's last 10 games due to a lingering upper-body injury.

Head coach Lindy Ruff, whose team struggled heading into the break, told reporters that he had no update on the former top overall pick’s status and he’s being considered week-to-week.

While speaking at the All-Star Game this weekend in Toronto, though, Hughes said that he feels he’s closing in on a potential return to the team.

“I feel like I’m getting really close,” Hughes said. “Hopefully I can come out of the break feeling a bit better and I can get back out on the ice with the boys and help us finish the season on a high note.”

The injury came at a rough time for Hughes, as he’s been unable to participate this weekend in his third consecutive All-Star Game.

The star center was replaced on the roster by his Devils teammate, Jesper Bratt, but Hughes still attended the festivities and served as co-captain alongside his brother, Quinn Hughes, for Thursday’s All-Star Player Draft.

“It’s a bummer,” he said. “But it’s no one's fault, just tough timing and how things went down. I’m still fortunate to be here with Quinn and stuff, it’s a really cool and special opportunity and I don’t know when I’ll get this chance again.”

While it certainly is unfortunate Hughes is unable to skate alongside some of the NHL’s best, his health obviously comes first, as the Devils need him back to 100 percent if they hope to scratch their way back to the playoffs.

New Jersey went 3-6-1 over their final 10 games of the first half, and they are currently tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals for fifth in the Metropolitan Division, just one point behind the Islanders.

When healthy, the 22-year-old has remained a catalyst for their offense, producing 15 goals and 30 assists for a total of 45 points, which is good enough for second on the team.