Eastern Edge: Early ice time trends for Hughes, Gallagher, and others

Brennan Des


In this week's Eastern Edge we'll take a look at some ice time trends early in the 2021 campaign. Specifically, we'll highlight two players seeing more ice-time than usual, and two players seeing less ice time than usual.


Jack Hughes

As a rookie last year, Hughes averaged 16 minutes of ice time per game and scored at a 28-point pace. Through nine games this season, he's skating nearly 20 minutes a night. The increased opportunity comes with increased production as he's tallied eight points through nine appearances, which translates to 73 points over 82 games – or 49 points in 56 games. While the extra ice time certainly helps, Hughes spent the offseason developing his game and getting stronger. From all accounts, he looks like a much more dangerous player this year. So, this improved production isn't just a product of the larger role he's seeing in 2021. That's important to note because the Devils have been without top center Nico Hischier so far this season. If/when Hischier returns this season, one would expect Hughes to see a slight decrease in ice time. It's reassuring that Hughes' offensive success is not entirely dependent on his situation. Thus, his individual talent should allow him to keep scoring at a high rate even if his minutes are reduced slightly.


Pavel Buchnevich

The 25-year-old forward is off to a strong start this season with eight points in 11 appearances. More importantly, he's averaging nearly 20 minutes of ice time per game – a three-minute jump from last year! While this increased opportunity is certainly encouraging, it's important to note that Buchnevich is seeing a prominent role on the penalty kill for the first time in his career. He's averaged two minutes and 40 seconds of PK time, which partially explains why his overall ice time has seen such a sizeable increase. Nevertheless, Buchnevich is a talented player who skates alongside other talented players in New York's top-six. I think he'll continue to impress us with his offensive production, and I