One month into the 2023-24 NHL season, the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, and Anaheim Ducks are all currently missing crucial players. Injuries happen, but it’s especially tough when a team loses a player who is integral to their success. The Devils are missing electric center Jack Hughes, the Rangers are without their star goalie Igor Shesterkin, and the Ducks are now missing talented forward Trevor Zegras.
While the Rangers have weathered the storm and continued to win without Shesterkin and playmaking defenseman Adam Fox, the Devils have struggled since losing two of their best forwards, Hughes and Nico Hischier, to upper body injuries. The Ducks have played well despite Zegras’ slow start to the season. Speculation points to Zegras' nagging injury explaining his slow start.
The Devils and Rangers will play each other this Saturday in the season’s first meeting of the cross-river rivals. The Ducks will face some tough competition this week with games against the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers.
Here are the latest injury updates on Hughes, Shesterkin, and Zegras.
Jack Hughes (upper body), New Jersey Devils
Jack Hughes was unstoppable for the Devils’ first 10 games of the season, racking up 20 points. Then he (literally) hit a wall. Hughes has been down with an upper-body injury since crashing into the boards in the first period of a game on November 3. He is considered week-to-week. The Devils have struggled in the absence of their two best centers, Hughes and Hischier.
The latest on Hughes is that he did not travel to Winnipeg with the team, but it’s possible he’ll meet the team in Pittsburgh later this week. This doesn’t mean he would play on Thursday night against the Penguins, but returning to practice would be a big step.
If Hughes returns to play against the New York Rangers on Saturday night, that would be huge for the Devils in their first game this season against their rivals. This will be the first meeting of the Devils and Rangers since New Jersey won Round 1 of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Devils are 7-5-1 in 2023-24. They've dropped two out of three games since Hughes went down. When he returns, the offense he brings will greatly help a team that is struggling with defense and goaltending.