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Jack Hughes happy to avoid being 'biggest bust ever' with career year

Jaylynn Nash / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The New Jersey Devils may have recently been eliminated by the Carolina Hurricanes, but Jack Hughes can still take solace in the fact that he silenced his critics with a huge breakout season.

"I think I had a really good year, established myself as a really good player in the league," Hughes said Saturday when asked what personal accomplishment he's most proud of. "Maybe the goal-scoring a bit, I don't know if anyone expected me to score 40 in my career, let alone three years after everyone was calling me the biggest bust ever."

Hughes shattered all of his previous career highs with 43 goals, 56 assists, and 99 points in 78 games this past season.

The 2019 first overall pick struggled out of the gate to begin his career, leading many skeptics to view him as a bust. He tallied just 21 points in 61 games during his rookie year and 31 points in 56 contests during his sophomore campaign.

But after his fourth season, Hughes is now regarded as one of the game's brightest young stars. And while he may still be a better playmaker than a shooter, he showed he's not a one-dimensional threat after firing 336 shots on net, good for fifth in the league.

Hughes is also proud of the steps his team made this season. While they didn't reach the ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup, the Devils made the playoffs for the first time with the current core and even beat the rival New York Rangers in Round 1, which was extra sweet for Hughes.

"Winning Game 7 against the Rangers, I think that was really special," Hughes said. "To beat those guys, we wanted to do that. That was definitely the best moment (of the season)."

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