If by now you haven’t come to the realization that Jack Hughes will be the first overall pick in the 2019 NHL draft then here is another piece that will beat that drum.
In this new series, we will take a closer look one prospect each week as we inch closer to the NHL Entry Draft in June. What better way to start the new series than with the kid who is generating the most hype?
Name: Jack Hughes
Age: 17 (May 14th, 2001)
Weight: 168 lbs
Jack Hughes is an elite level skater. His speed is tremendous and his acceleration is top notch. When he gets a step on opposing defenceman he is near impossible to catch. He can make a move on the outside and drive the net.
The video below is from a game against Slovakia in the U18 World Championships. Hughes pokes the puck forward to himself picks up speed to get around the Slovakian defenceman and drives the net. While the puck doesn’t go in for him, Cole Caufield buries the loose puck for the goal. This great scoring chance was created by the play of Jack Hughes. His ability to change speeds as well as make quick cuts makes him hard to defend in any situation.
Hughes’s offensive game is one of the main reasons why he is the expected top pick in June. He has soft, quick hands that help him control the puck while skating. Hughes is outright a playmaker. His vision and anticipation are tremendous and he has an extremely high hockey IQ. He is good at making passes in tight areas and he uses his speed in order to control the play. His shot is still improving but that’s not to say it’s bad. He can light the lamp just as good as the next guy, if not better.
In the following clip against the Central Illinois Flying Aces, Hughes pick up the loose puck near the faceoff circle gets his shot blocked then settles the puck, picks his spot an roofs one short side on the Flying Aces goaltender. His shot is both quick and accurate.
On the defensive side of the puck, Hughes plays a quality defensive game. He doesn’t do anything poorly, but nothing spectacular. He can use his stick to intercept passes and create turnovers. Hughes is good at transitioning from defense to offense after forcing a turnover. He is not the most physical of players but will throw a check or two when he needs to.
In the end, Hughes is the clear favorite to be taken by the New Jersey Devils with the top overall pick. He has the potential to be a franchise player and with some development will be a strong two way forward in the NHL. His offense is already off the charts and when he starts to fill out his 5-foot- frame he will be able to be more physical. Expect Hughes to be in the NHL come the fall.
Cover photo credit: forbes.com
Chris Bugajsky covers the Dallas Stars, the NHL, and the NHL Draft for Full Press Coverage. Follow Chris on twitter @CBugajsky14.