Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2022 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we bring you our Jack Hughes Scouting Report.
With Quinn, Jack, and Luke Hughes all being drafted high in recent years, the Hughes family from Manchester, New Hampshire have been big players in recent NHL Drafts. However, a new family from Westwood, Massachusetts with the same name (and no relation) is looking to make a big impact in the 2022 NHL Draft. Former player agent Kent Hughes is the new Montreal Canadiens general manager and has the first overall pick. Meanwhile, his son, Jack Hughes, is seen as a possible late first or early second-round pick.
After coming through the US NTDP system, Hughes played college hockey for Northeastern University this season. He put up seven goals and 16 points in 39 games for the Huskies this past season. He helped the Huskies to the Hockey East Championship. Hughes was also named to the Conferences’ All-Rookie Team. Hughes was a monster at the NHL Draft Combine, putting up excellent results in multiple tests.
In 2020-21, Hughes put up eight goals and34 points in 38 games for the NTDP U18s. In 2019-20, Hughes had 14 goals and 38 points in 49 games for the Under-17s. He also won a silver medal at the U17 World Hockey Challenge.
Jack Hughes Scouting Report
Centre — shoots Left
Born November 2nd, 2003 — Westwood, Massachusetts
Height 5’11.5″ — Weight 169 lbs [183 cm/77 kg]
While Hughes is not the fastest player, his skating is still very good. His top-end speed is not a liability and he can keep up with the play, but it isn’t really an asset either. He isn’t one to blow past a defenceman and drive the net or generate breakaway opportunities with his speed. Hughes does have a good first few steps and acceleration though. Over a short distance, he can quickly speed up and create space from a defender. Hughes has outstanding edge work and agility though. He is able to gain speed and power out of his turns. He is also able to create shooting and passing lanes with a quick move.
Hughes is willing to be involved in the dirty areas of the ice, battling on the boards and in front of the net. However, his lack of size and strength is an issue as he can be pushed off the puck and overpowered by bigger opponents.
Hughes is an effective playmaker. He has very good vision and hockey IQ. Hughes is willing to be very creative with his passes, attempting to make passes through tight passing lanes, or a saucer pass over an opponent’s stick to get the puck to a teammate. This type of risky play can sometimes lead to turnovers, but also leads to creating a number of scoring chances as well. He does a good job of making give-and-go passes and working in the cycle game.
Hughes gets in quickly on the forecheck and forces opposing defenders to make mistakes. He will throw a hit to try and make a play. He is also willing to battle on the boards for loose pucks. However, Hughes’ lack of size and strength is still a limiting factor. He should be able to add muscle to his frame and this will improve this aspect of his game.
Hughes needs to work on his shot though. He gets decent power on his shot but lacks accuracy. Too many of his shots either hit the goalie square in the chest or miss the net. He also could work on his release. Hughes needs some time to load up before letting go of his wrist shot and this gives goalies time to get set. He does have good stickhandling ability. When carrying the puck through the neutral zone, he marries this with his skating to find open ice and generate effective zone entries. He also does a good job of using his body and his stickhandling to protect the puck down low and work the cycle game.
Hughes is committed to playing a two-way game. He gets back quickly supporting the defence with effective back pressure against the rush and helping out down low against the cycle game. Hughes needs to be a bit more disciplined with his stick though. His lack of size and inability to play a physical game often leads to him stick-checking opponents and he takes some hooking, tripping, and slashing penalties as a result. This quick stick movement also leads to him intercepting passes and cutting down passing and shooting lanes. He can also get stronger in the faceoff circle.
Projection and Comparison
Hughes has an intriguing set of skills but there is also some work to do. He will need to get stronger as he is very slight. Hughes likes to play a physical game but will not be able to do that at the professional level if he doesn’t add significant muscle. He can also work on his top-end speed and on improving his shot. Hughes is a hard worker though and many of these issues can be solved with good coaching. Expect him to play another couple of years of college hockey. This will give him time to spend in the weight room due to the less intense NCAA schedule. Hughes’ game is reminiscent of Philip Danault. This is a stylistic comparison only though and not one based on skill and ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Jack Hughes that are available on youtube and Twitter.
Northeastern commit Jack Hughes (#HowlinHuskies) was dearly missed last night, but tonight, is back in the lineup and opens the scoring for the States against Germany.#2022NHLDraft | #U18Worlds pic.twitter.com/JmIbgX8DIc
— Raine Hernandez (@BringerOfRaine) April 28, 2021
“He’s started to show why everybody has high hopes for him down the road.”@daredlinereport‘s Kyle Woodlief on @GoNUmhockey true freshman Jack Hughes and how he’s shaping up as a top New England candidate for the 2022 NHL draft 🎙https://t.co/w1L9vMLpGF pic.twitter.com/leVBvJjn2W
— New England Hockey Journal (@NEHockeyJournal) January 11, 2022
— Patrick Donnelly (@PatDonn12) November 21, 2021
Taking in the U18s vs Muskegon. Nice play all the way around here as Liam Gilmartin (PC) makes a neutral zone connection with Jeremy Wilmer (BU), who does a little drop and go with Jack Hughes (Northeastern) for the goal. pic.twitter.com/v01SylUxMw
— Kris Baker (@SabresProspects) October 17, 2020
Check back later for our next article on the 2022 NHL Draft.
Jack Hughes Scouting Report Main Photo:
Jack Hughes – 2022 NHL Draft Profile https://t.co/iPqwK6Nb3I
— The Hockey Writers (@TheHockeyWriter) April 26, 2022