You read that right, folks! In a not confusing at all development, three years after Jack Hughes went first overall in the draft, we have another Jack Hughes to talk about. This one, while not related to the Devils’ Hughes, is the son of new Canadiens GM Kent Hughes, because hockey is the smallest of worlds, so there’s that.
Hughes has benefitted from his November 2003 birthday, and has already completed two seasons with the NTDP before heading off to Northeastern University, where he spent his draft year playing. And while he didn’t find the same eye-catching results as some of last year’s draft eligible players getting a jump on the college game, he has already carved out a nice little role for himself, and established himself as a should-be first round talent.
BSH 2022 Community Draft Board, No. 23: Jack Hughes
Team: Northeastern University (NCAA)
Statistics: 7 G, 9 A, in 39 GP
No. 26 (NA skaters) by NHL Central Scouting
No. 27 by McKenzie/TSN (midseason)
No. NR by Dobber Prospects (April)
No. 29 by Wheeler/The Athletic
What’s there to like?
Hughes’s scoring stats from last season don’t positively jump off the page, but for the youngest player in college hockey last season, on a not particularly high-scoring Northeastern team, his results were respectable. He was putting things together more as the season went on, and he’s poised to make a step forward next season. And what’s more, it’s hard to overstate the benefit he has from already having a full college season under his belt before he’s even been drafted.
But as far as his actual skillset goes, he’s a bit raw, but there’s a good foundation in place for him to become a nicely well-rounded contributor at the professional level. While the execution is sometimes lacking (more on that later), he does a lot of good work and you can tell that his instincts are leading him in the right direction, that the ideas are good. He has a good nose for the net, gets himself to the right areas to score from, and to score on dangerous chances, and also does a nice job of finding passing lanes. He draws in attackers to himself well, and then he can do a good job of cutting or spinning away from them (which is a testament to his edge work) to evade them.
He’s also just a really hard working player, and that helps him in really all areas of the ice, but particularly in the defensive zone. He works hard to stick with plays, forechecks well, and can be quite effective in boxing out opponents and forcing turnovers. He also supports his teammates well when they're in puck battles in the corners, as he doesn't often get caught puck watching, but rather gets himself into a passing lane to pick off pucks coming out of those corners.
What’s not to like?
As we’ve alluded to a bit, what we can see with Hughes is that while he has good instincts and works hard to do the right things, he’s still a bit raw, a bit of a project. The puck skills are a work in progress. He can struggle with puck security, he holds the puck a bit too far away from his body, so he can get caught bobbling more often than you’d like to see, or spends a bit too much time dusting them off to have a really lethal catch and release shot. He can make up for some of that with his work ethic, but he’ll need to polish that out before he can take the next big step in his development.
The same goes for his skating—while the mechanics to his stride are fine, he doesn’t have excellent speed. He’s been fine, just fine, at the NCAA level with it, buthe’ll need to improve that if he wants to really hang at the professionallevel.
How would he fit in the Flyers’ system?
The Flyers are pretty sorely in need of more highly skilled centers in their pipeline, but the fit with Hughes might not be a seamless one. For one, they’ve made a point that they want to get faster, and with that being something of a weak point for Hughes even at the college level, that might give the Flyers some pause. He’s also more of a pass-first player, which isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but the Flyers are more than well enough stocked with that mold of player in their pipeline. Now, could these elements of his game be developed to better fit the needs of the team if the Flyers did end up with him? Sure, probably! But on the surface, the fit here doesn’t seem like the absolute best.
Could the Flyers actually get him?
Most likely no. Things tend to get a little weird at this point in the draft, and even if we’re seeing Hughes mostly predicted to go in the later part of the first round, it wouldn’t be a massive surprise to see him fall into the second round. The bad news, of course, is that the Flyers gave up their second round pick in last year’s Ristolainen trade, so that all but takes them out of the mix here. Alas!
We’ll make one addition to the poll:
Lane Hutson— D, US NTDP (USDP/USHL) — 10 G, 53 A in 60 GP (USDP) and 6 G, 26 A in 27 GP (USHL)
The reality is there aren’t many defencemen Hutson’s size who play in the NHL, even as the game changes. And those guys have never been selected in the first round. But there aren’t many players who play like Hutson in hockey either. I often get asked just how high he’d go if he were 6-foot-3 and the reality is that he wouldn’t able to do a lot of what makes him so interesting at that size. He’s a unique player who uses a light (though not powerful) stride to create entries and exits, weave past coverage, escape pressure, and find or create seams.. — Scott Wheeler, The Athletic
Who should be no. 24 on the 2022 Community Draft Board?
This poll is closed
1. Shane Wright — C, Kingston (OHL)
2. Juraj Slafkovský — LW, TPS (Liiga)
3. Logan Cooley — C, NTDP (USDP/USHL)
4. Simon Nemec — D, HK Nitra (Slovakia)
5. Matthew Savoie — C, Winnipeg (OHL)
6. David Jiricek — D, HC Plzeň (Czechia)
7. Joakim Kemell — W, JYP (Liiga)
8. Conor Geekie — C, Winnipeg (OHL)
9. Frank Nazar — C, NTDP (USDP/USHL)
T-10. Brad Lambert — C, JYP/Pelicans (Liiga)
T-10. Cutter Gauthier — C, NTDP (USDP/USHL)
12. Ivan Miroshnichenko — LW, Omskie Krylia (VHL)
13. Jonathan Lekkerimaki — RW, Djurgårdens IF (Ligga)
14. Danila Yurov — RW, Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)
15. Isaac Howard — LW, NTDP (USDP/USHL)
16. Pavel Mintyukov — D, Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
17. Jimmy Snuggerud — RW, US NTDP (USDP/USHL)
18. Rutger McGroarty — LW, US NTDP (USDP/USHL)
19. Marco Kasper — C, Rogle BK (SHL)
20. Owen Pickering — D, Swift Current (WHL)
21. Seamus Casey — D, NTDP (USDP/USHL)
22. Denton Mateychuk — D, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
23. Jack Hughes — C, Northeastern (NCAA)