It is quite a feat to be compared to an NHL star at any age, especially if that star is Connor McDavid. Already being considered to be a top pick in 2019, Jack Hughes has already caught eyes of scouts even though he is still only 16. If the name Hughes sounds familiar, it is because Jack Hughes is the brother of Quinn Hughes, who is projected to be taken in the top 10 of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
Hockey is in the Hughes’ families blood. Quinn and Jack are both top prospects for their respective draft years and their younger brother Luke, who is only 14, is already on the radar for the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Their father Jim Hughes was a standout NCAA hockey player who suited up for Providence College in the NCAA as a defenceman for 3 years and even captained the team in the 1988-89 season. He suited up for 1 game in the AHL with the Springfield Indians and 1 game in the IHL for the Albany Choppers. After his playing career, he became an assistant coach for 12 seasons serving as the assistant coach for the NCAA’s Providence College and RPI (Rensselaer Polytech. Inst.), the IHL’s Orlando Solar Bears, The NHL’s Boston Bruins, the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs as well as the Toronto Marlies.
In his 13th season as a coach, he spent half the season as the Head coach of the KHL’s Dynamo Minsk and was replaced midseason. He then went on to spend the rest of the season as the assistant coach of the Toronto Marlies. After that season,n he became the Director of Player Development for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He assumed this role for 6 seasons. His coaching and player development experience must have rubbed off on his kids because they are all stars in the making.
Unlike his brothers, Quinn and Luke, Jack Hughes is a center and has already showcased his talents at the Under-17 World Juniors for team U.S.A. Some of the brightest stars have played in this tournament as it is a way to showcase your talent a couple of years before you are even draft eligible. Auston Matthews and Jack Echiel are two proven NHL Stars that played for America in the tournament and went on to become NHL stars at young ages. In recent years, many top draft prospects have been involved in the competition. Some of the top prospects in this years NHL Entry Draft, Brady Tkachuk, Joel Farabee, Oliver Wahlstrom, and Bode Wilde, all played in the tournament.
Just because Hughes played and performed extremely well in the tournament does not mean he is a surefire NHL talent. It does, however, show that he has talent that is comparable to high-level players and prospects. He led the entire regular season for the Under-17 World Junior Hockey Championships with 15 points in 6 games, giving him 2.50 points per game.
Hughes has spent this season split between playing in the USHL with the USNTDP Juniors and the USDP for the U.S. National U17 Team and the U.S. National U18 Team. In each league and team Jack Hughes has played on, he has performed at an elite level. In the USHL, Hughes currently has 36 points in 20 games played, good for 24th in the league.
That might not sound extremely impressive, but when you take into account the fact that he has 36 points in 20 games which gives him the highest points-per-game percentage in the entire league at 1.80, it makes it a whole lot more impressive. Hughes played in 20 games which is one more than the 19 that both Oliver Wahlstrom and Joel Farabee, two top prospects in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, have played in. Even though he played in only one more game then both Wahlstrom and Farabee he still has 4 more points then Walhstrom and 10 more then Farabee in the USHL. This is impressive considering he is one-year younger than both players.
Jack Hughes has played for both the U.S. National U17 Team and the U.S. National U18 Team this season in the USDP. If you combine Hughes’ point totals from all of the teams he has played for this season, he has recorded an astonishing 81 points in 45 games. His scoring for the U17 team was incredible as he was recording 2 points per game with 48 points in 24 games.
Hughes has not played the same amount of games for the U18 team as many of the top prospects who have been playing there all season, but if you take in his Points per game (PPG), you will be able to compare Jack Hughes to the rest of the team. The highest scorer for the U18 side, Oliver Wahlstrom has played in 47 games for the U.S. National U18 Team. In those 47 games, he has put up strong numbers as he has recorded 38 goals and 32 assists totalling 70 points in those 47 games. His point totals have put him in conversation to be a top 10 draft pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft this summer.
Wahlstrom has a lot of skill, but when you compare him to Jack Hughes, he comes out on the short end of that stick. Wahlstrom has a 1.49 PPG for the U.S. National U18 Team while Hughes, on the other hand, has played 26 fewer games and has a better PPG then Wahlstrom with 1.57. Hughes currently holds a better PPG rating than some of the best players to ever play in the USDP at his age, like Clayton Keller who is currently enjoying a successful rookie season with the Arizona Coyotes of the NHL. His PPG is also greater than that of the Leafs superstar forward Auston Matthews.
Jack Hughes currently is projected to be one of the top prospects at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, and if he continues to perform as he has been, then it would not be a surprise to see him get taken off the board in the top 3 or even higher. The 2019 Draft class holds some top talent that is known already. Who knows what could happen in the next year, prospects are always rising up the draft rankings, but if Hughes can continue to play as he has been, he can easily be one of the top picks in the draft if not the top pick. He has the ability to be the difference maker in a game and is showing the potential to be an elite playmaker.
Ryan Suzuki is a prospect for the 2019 draft that is expected to go very early in the draft but is another player who has been outperformed by Hughes in the U17 World Junior Championship. Although this is not always the best way to compare players and determine who will be better as this has been proven to not be accurate many times, it is still proven to be a good indication of judging potential talent, especially if those players have already performed admirably in their own respective leagues.
Jack Hughes was selected 8th overall by the Mississauga Steelheads at the 2017 OHL Priority Selection draft. It is uncertain if he will ever play for the Steelheads in his junior career as he has expressed his desire to play US National Team Development Program, but if he does decide to take his talents to the OHL, you can expect that the seven other teams who passed up on Hughes will be regretting not drafting him when they had the chance. If Jack Hughes does decide to take his talents to the OHL, you can expect him to showcase his incredible talent and take the OHL by storm which is why the General Manager of the Steelheads, James Boyd, took the risk of drafting him using the 8th overall selection as he believes it was worth the risk as he could be the best prospect in the OHL since Connor McDavid.
The 2019 draft may be over a year away, but it says a lot when a player already draws comparisons to top NHL talents and has performed incredibly at such a young age and has the statistics to live up to the comparisons as well as Jack Hughes has done so far.