BUFFALO, NY - Hockey is back for the weekend as the Devils head into game one against the Buffalo Sabres at the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo at Harborcenter. Jack Hughes is expected to make his Devils debut on the first line alongside Jesper Boqvist and Nathan Bastian.
JACK'S READY TO GO
After a busy summer for first overall pick Jack Hughes, he's ready to get going in a Devils sweater in game one tonight.
"It's really nice to get going, summer's over and the hockey season has started. It's nice and I'm ready to get going tonight…This will be my first game with a Devils jersey on, which is really special."
Hughes is slated to play on a line with Jesper Boqvist tonight in his first game as a Devil and said that chemistry is quickly brewing between the two.
"He's fun to play with, he's a guy I like to play with, skilled, really smart, can fly, it's going to be fun tonight."
"He's easy to play with, he's a really smart player, that's step one to building some chemistry, hopefully, we can get it going tonight and keep it going."
FIRST LINE JESPER
Heading into this weekend's Prospect Challenge, Jesper Boqvist wants to prove to the coaching staff that he's built off of last year to become stronger in his game.
"It's the first game today, hopefully, I can show I've built on what I finished last year and that I've been stronger and more excited. Hopefully, I can show that more today."
On being on a line with Hughes tonight:
"If that happens it will be pretty fun to play with him. Obviously he's already a great player and watching him that close will be fun."
Sissons - Smith Groleau - White Bernard - Vukojevic
-- Sara Giles, NewJerseyDevils.com
DEVILS PROSPECTS (0-0-0) at SABRES PROSPECTS (0-0-0)
TV: 7:00 p.m. ET; Televised on njd.TV (online at NewJerseyDevils.com)
Devils Team Scope:
The big recognizable name on the Devils roster is Jack Hughes, the NHL's number one overall pick from this past June's NHL Draft. Hughes lit it up last year for the U.S. National Team Development Program with 112 points in 50 games.
However, Hughes isn't the only intriguing name on the Devils list. Jesper Boqvist joins the team after a successful season with Brynas of the Swedish League last season. He had 13 goals and 35 points in 51 games to rank second on the team in scoring. Boqvist was drafted in the second round by the Devils in 2017, 36th overall.
The lineup also boasts a number of players who suited up for the Devils in an NHL game last season: Joey Anderson, Nathan Bastian, Brandon Gignac, Michael McLeod and Colton White.
Sabres Team Scope:
While the Devils have six players with NHL experience, the Sabres only have two. Defenseman Will Borgen and Henri Jokiharju are the only two Sabres Prospects who played in the NHL last year. Borgen suited up for four games while Jokiharju played in 38 for the Chicago Blackhawks. He was acquired by the Sabres this past offseason in exchange for Alexander Nylander.
Jokiharju had 12 assists for Chicago in his 38 games. The right-shooting defenseman is only 20 years old and was selected by the Blackhawks in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft.
Initially ruled out of the tournament, the Sabres announced on Thursday evening that Dylan Cozens would play in the Prospects Challenge. The seventh overall pick in this past June's draft was asked about lining up against a member of his draft class in Jack Hughes.
"I'm not really focusing on other guys," he told the Sabres website. "I'm focusing on myself. I want to go out there and play because I feel good, not go out and play because I want to play against Jack Hughes. I want to go out and play because I love the game of hockey and I want to get back on the ice."
By the Numbers:
The Athletic recently ranked team prospect pools and the Devils came out third in the NHL while the Sabres were 18th.
At last year's Prospects Challenge tournament in Buffalo, the Sabres, Bruins and Devils each won two games and lost one while the Penguins lost all three. The Devils lost 6-4 to Buffalo but won 6-2 over both Pittsburgh and Boston.
Sabres Prospects lost 3-1 to Boston but defeated Pittsburgh 10-2 in addition to their win over the Devils.
-- Marc Ciampa, NewJerseyDevils.com
Forwards 14 Joey Anderson 42 Nathan Bastian 90 Jesper Boqvist 92 Graeme Clarke 51 Brandon Gignac 57 Mitchell Hoelscher 86 Jack Hughes 74 Ludvig Larson 73 Mikhail Maltsev 41 Michael McLeod 70 Nikita Popugaev 53 Yegor Sharangovich 46 Blake Speers 67 Marian Studenic 59 Fabian Zetterlund
Defense 62 Xavier Bernard 83 Nicholas Canade 75 Jeremy Groleau 78 Noah King 82 Nikita Okhotyuk 71 Colby Sissons 24 Ty Smith 81 Michael Vukojevic 2 Colton White