Devils star Jack Hughes won't participate in All-Star events

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Thursday, February 1, 2024

Jack Hughes will not participate in the skills competition or 3-on-3 tournament at the upcoming NHL All-Star Weekend because of injury.

New Jersey Devils teammate Jesper Bratt was added to the All-Star roster Tuesday as a last-minute replacement for Hughes. Mathew Barzal of the New York Islanders will replace Hughes as one of the 12 players doing the skills competition Friday.

The league announced the switch Tuesday, following executive Steve Mayer saying earlier in the week officials would wait until the "last possible second" to see if Hughes could play.

Hughes is still expected to be in Toronto, co-captaining one of the All-Star teams for the 3-on-3 tournament Saturday with brother Quinn of the Vancouver Canucks. Elias Pettersson, a teammate of Quinn's in Vancouver, was added to Team Hughes to even out the rosters.

This was the contingency plan the NHL had in place, since Mayer said on a call with reporters Tuesday that Hughes was still being evaluated and was very much still welcome at the festivities.

"We want to keep him as a captain," said Mayer, the league's chief content officer. "We want him to be here in Toronto. He knows that, and so we'd like to keep Team Hughes, even if he doesn't play."

Hughes has been out since leaving the Devils' game against Chicago on Jan. 5 with an upper body injury, which Blackhawks rookie Connor Bedard also left with a broken jaw that knocked him out of All-Star Weekend.

Hughes has been limited by injuries to 32 games this season, though he still ranks second on the team in points with 45.

Bratt, a 25-year-old from Sweden, is an All-Star for the first time. He's New Jersey's top scorer at the break with 50 points on 19 goals and 31 assists.

Barzal joins Edmonton's Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar, Toronto's Auston Matthews and William Nylander, Boston's David Pastrnak and Vancouver's Hughes, Pettersson and J.T. Miller as the participants in the skills competition under a new format with the winner receiving $1 million. Mayer revealed the top goaltender among the eight participating in one event will also win $100,000.