On Monday, New Jersey Devils forward Ondrej Palat complemented his new team, especially his new teammate center Jack Hughes. He noted that Hughes’ attitude towards the game reminded him “a lot of ‘Kuch’”. He further said, “He likes to do the extra skill stuff that star players and superstars do a lot.”
“I definitely see it in him since I had a chance to play with him in a couple of preseason games and, definitely, he has that. “He has that thing that he can take the next step and have a really, really good season and lead this team.”
“He’ll be a really good linemate” – Jack Hughes on Ondrej Palat
Palat has high expectations from his team this season around. Time and again he mentioned how he believes in the system structure created by the coach. “I think the focus is to follow the system, play better defense than they did last season.”
“We need to take care of our own end because we are a skilled enough group to score goals. We’re going to score, but we need to help our goalies protect the net. Everybody has to accept that role that the coaching staff will give them.”
The Lightning were the Stanley Cup champions two times consecutively, in 2020 and in 2021. Palat won the Cup with the team and he knows what the makeup of a championship player looks like. When he compliments Hughes there definitely must be a reason behind it.
On July 14, Palat joined the Devils by penning a $30 million contract. During the time he was with the Lightning, he lined up with Kucherov, Brayden Point, and Steven Stamkos. This time around, he will either be playing with Hughes or with Nico Hischier.
Hughes commented, “I was really familiar with [Palat’s] game, and the fact he went to the Stanley Cup Final four times (also 2015, 2022), you’re always watching the big games. “He’s a great player in his own right, but I’m sure he’ll be a really good linemate for me or Nico, whoever it may be, and help elevate our games, too.”
As for his comparison with Kucherov, Hughes stated, “Kuch had one of the best years of any guy in the NHL … that MVP year with 128 points, so it’s hard to sit here and compare yourself to a player like that”.
“But it’s great to hear it from [Palat]. I know we’ve had some good talks. I think very highly of him, and I think he really respects me, as well. I think we’re both really excited to get after it together. It’s a new challenge for him, and we’re looking to make movement. So it’s cool, but I got a lot of work to do.”
Seems like Hughes is as excited as Palat to get started with the new season. After getting compared to Kucherov, he is eager to prove Palat right and take on responsibilities for the upcoming 2022-23 season. Palat believes that good play and good health can surely bring the Devils to a higher standpoint than before.