Jack Hughes has made it official that he will wear #86 in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils. He wore #6 last season with the U.S. National Team Development Program and was also able to wear the number Team USA in the U18, U20, and World Championship tournaments.
The Devils have had 29 different players wear #6 during their franchise. Most for just a season or two. Tommy Albelin wore it for around 11 seasons over two different stints with the Devils. Andy Greene has worn it for the entirety of his 13 year career with the Devils, including last season. With Green still having a another year on his contract, not to mention a C sown to his jersey, there was little chance of Hughes knocking him off of his number.
So Hughes was left to pick another number and he chose #86.
This makes him the first Devils player to wear the number and only the 19th player to wear a number higher than 50 for the Devils. By choosing to wear #86, he’s joined a group of 13 other players to wear the number in the NHL. He’s joining some elite company in the form of Tampa Bay Lightning’s #86 Nikita Kucherov. He’s also joining some not so elite company. Let’s see who the other players to wear this number in the NHL are.
All stats and Jersey Number information from Hockey-Reference.com.
Ferland was the first player to ever wear the number in the NHL when he donned it for the 2005-06 Montreal Canadiens. He was a 7th round pick of Montreal’s in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. Unfortunately for Ferland, it was his only NHL call up. He played in seven games and recorded a goal. He lasted a couple more seasons in the AHL with the Hamilton Bulldogs before taking his services overseas.
One of the few Polish players to ever play in the NHL, Wolski was a 1st round pick of the Colorado Avalance in 2004. He began his career wearing #8 for the Avs. When he went to the Phoenix Coyotes at the trade deadline in 2010, he switched to #86. He wore that number for parts of four seasons with Phoenix and the New York Rangers. He scored 18 goals and 56 points while wearing #86 over parts of four seasons.
Williams became the 3rd player to wear #86 in the NHL. He had played in four seasons for the Toronto Maple Leafs wearing #48 and #18 including two seasons in which he appeared in just one game with a goal in each game. As a 27 year old, he was in the New York Rangers system and was called up for a single game. He went scoreless in 3:43 TOI.
Nikita Kucherov, Teuvo Teravainen, and Kevan Miller
On 11/21/2013, Kevan Miller made his debut for the Boston Bruins wearing #86. Four days later on 11/25/2013, Kucherov made his debut. However, Kucherov initially wore #56 for a handful of games before moving to his correct #86 jersey. Teravainen made his debut for the Chicago Blackhawks at the end of the March in the 2013-14 season playing in three games.
It’s obviously hard to compare Miller to the other two since he is a defenseman. He’s had a respectable career thus far, but he didn’t get his start until he was 26 years old. He also dealt with some unfortunate injuries this season. In 324 career NHL games he had 67 points while averaging 18:24 TOI.
Teravainen played parts of three seasons with the Blackhawks before being traded to the Carolina Hurricanes where he has spent the past three seasons. He broke out over the past two seasons recording 64 and 76 points respectively. Over 360 career games, he has 76 goals and 226 points.
Kucherov though, is the leader of the class. He has played 447 career NHL games and put up 188 goals and 462 points. He’s won a Hart, Pearson, and Ross, has been a first team all-star twice and a 2nd team all-star once.
These three together are the longest tenured #86s in the league. Kucherov has the most games, though Miller has the biggest time in number due to debuting just before Kucherov.
Nikolai Kulemin, Nikita Nikitin, and Josh Jooris
Two Russians and a Canadian. Perhaps we’re seeing Kucherov’s influence though Kulemin and Nikitin are older than Kucherov.
Kulemin initially wore #41 with the Toronto Maple Leafs to start his career. When he went to the New York Islanders in 2014-15, he switched to #86. He spent four years with the Islanders before he was out of the NHL. In that time he recorded 37 goals and 79 points in 248 games.
Nikitin likewise had worn different numbers previously in his career. He started with #64 and then #6 before ending up with #86 with the Edmonton Oilers for two seasons. He spent 2014-15 and 2015-16 with the Oilers before he was out of the NHL. He only played in 53 games with 11 points.
Jooris has been around the block. He has worn #86 with the Calgary Flames, New York Rangers, and Arizona Coyotes. Hockey-Reference also has him wearing #86 with the Carolina Hurricanes, but that would be impossible since Teravainen was already in Carolina when Jooris arrived. While wearing #86, Jooris recorded 16 goals and 36 points over 114 NHL games.
Connor Brickley was the next to appear in the NHL with #86 when he debuted for the Florida Panthers in 2015-16. He played in 23 games with a goal and five points. He changed his number when he made it back to the NHL with the Panthers two seasons later to #23. He continued with #23 last year with the New York Rangers. This was a case of a player wearing a camp number, instead of his preferred number.
Likewise, Kase played one season in 2016-17 with his camp number of #86 before switching to #25 in his second season with the Anaheim Ducks. He recorded five goals and 15 points in 53 games for the Ducks before switching his number.
Wolanin became the 12th player to don #86 doing so in 2017-18 for the Ottawa Senators. He continued to wear the number this past season as well. In 40 career games, he has put up five goals and 15 points.
The fourth Russian and the third Nikita to wear #86, we come around to Soshnikov. Soshnikov started out with the Toronto Maple Leafs wearing #41 and #26. He was then traded to the St. Louis Blues in 2017-18 and switched to #90. When he came back to the NHL for five games with the Blues this season, he switched to #86. In those five games, he averaged 7:10 of ice time and was scoreless.
When Jack Hughes suits up, he will become the 14th player. None of the other players to wear the #86 on the back of their jersey has come close to matching what Kucherov has done in the NHL. But Hughes is a special talent and there’s certainly a possibility that he could end up meeting or exceeding Kucherov at some point down the road in his career. Hopefully Kucherov can make it a fight and keep up his dominating offense over the next few years as he passes through his prime, peak seasons.
Hughes has put himself into some elite company. It will be interesting to watch his game grow and see what he does in the NHL.