2018 NHL Draft Profile: Quinn Hughes

quinn hughes

The Rangers have the 9th overall pick this year, their second straight year with a top-ten pick (trading Derek Stepan to land the 7th overall last year). This draft is a deep draft, as you really need to try to screw things up to not land a top-six or top-four talent in the first round. In the top-ten, the Rangers should, in theory, get a kid with the potential of playing on the top line or top pairing.

The difference between the top three and the top ten is NHL readiness. The top three are NHL ready, the rest need time. We looked at Oliver Wahlstrom already, who is my preference if he slips to the Rangers. If not, there are plenty of others who are worthy of a pick, like defenseman Quinn Hughes.

Hughes, a left handed defenseman who just finished a monster freshman season at Michigan, is one of the top defensemen in the draft.  Hughes is a great skater with offensive instincts, and it shows in his 5-24-29 line with Michigan this year. His vision on the ice is top notch, which allows him to distribute with ease and poise.

Hughes’ strongest asset is his passing. He is almost always tape-to-tape, threading needles when needed. He is also incredibly calm and controlled with the puck. The game just slows for him at the NCAA level. You’ll rarely see him panic with the puck when pressured, which again contributes to his stat line.

His shot isn’t at the Wahlstrom level, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad shot either. He has a deceptive release and a surprisingly heavy shot. He doesn’t use his shot as often as you might like, but that doesn’t seem to impact his ability or production.

As for his own end, Hughes has solid positioning. When you combine his positioning with his skating and agility, he’s tough to blow by on a rush. He’s not an overly physical defenseman, and at 5’10” and 170 lbs, he does lose physical battles in front. However he makes up for that with timing on his challenges at the blue line and relative sneakiness, forcing turnovers and quickly transitioning to offense.

Hughes’ ceiling is a top pairing defenseman who can run a powerplay with the best of them. His 170 lb frame will get bigger, so as he transitions to the higher levels he shouldn’t lose battles in front as often. Hughes is a kid that can control the pace of a shift/game just by letting him manage the transition and offensive zone. The Rangers need a 1LD with Ryan McDonagh gone. Hughes could be that guy.

"2018 NHL Draft Profile: Quinn Hughes", 5 out of 5 based on 14 ratings.
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  1. Forget it! Too small for D, especially if he is not physical. Not interested. NYR needs positional, punishing Dmen combined with mobile puckmoving Dmen. Balance, balance. If we are going to have small on the roster, it must be real fast, real tough, or undeniably talented. This guy? Meh.

    1. A little concerned about his size too, but wouldn’t he make a good puck moving D man to play with say Ryan Lindgren? (who’s a tough pounding grinding D man)? We need toughness, but should not covet that with a top 10 pick. Top 10 is where you find elite talent. Later rounds are where you find toughness.

      1. I hate to go here, but we don’t need another Dylan McIlrath either. I mean no disrespect to Dylan. I don’t think he got a very fair shake and I would have liked to have seen him get a better chance. I also think AV’s system was not good for any defender. But he did not work out in Florida or Detroit either. He was not a first rounder. And we should not have passed up Tarashenko or Fowler or other for him. You only get 1 kick at a top 10 pick. If you screw that up it will push back the rebuild. We need to get tougher, but we need to do that properly.

  2. I really think Detroit will pick him.

    of all the small D men he would be my pick…Hughes that is….I would completely avoid Boivqist…TY Smith…Merkley ..Addison and Tychonick

    Dobson or Bouchard should be there at 9

    1. The draft value for the Smurfs blows my mind compared to the value generated. Boqvist had 6 points at ES in J20 top 10, was on the ice for 10gf. Was also on the ice for 9ga. The team has gotten production out of lots of random D(Klein, Holden) by merely having them play on their off hand and taking one timers when they slightly jump in from the point to the top of the circle.

      I keep hearing Brian Rafalski as a comp. Refalski was a UDFA. A great signing and supremely undervalued, but if a defender can’t defend, that is the definition of over valued.

      At least Hughes can actually defend.

  3. The more I learn about this draft and the players the most sensible strategy seems to be to hold the #9 pick and use one of our other 1st and 2nd to move to something like the 8 or 10 spot.

  4. I am not in favor of taking a defenseman in the first round. We need an infusion of offensive talent, so please look for a forward instead.

    Hughes may be quite talented, but would even take someone like Barrett Hayton, (Center) with the Sault Ste Marie team ahead of him.

  5. Sometimes I don’t get these articles on defenseman. Yes it true they need to be able to pass and rush the puck, but their main thing is to play defense. The other NHL team have good players who rush the puck and get scoring chances. Defense is what it says, to defend against an offensive attack. If a guy is too small to clear the front of the net what good is it. All we need to do is look at the Ranger defence a few years ago. When Girardi and Staal were good it was because of their play in the defensive zone. So let us remember it’s good to have a guy with offense but his main job is to defend!

    1. How did you feel about Leetch then when he was drafted almost 30 years ago — at a time when size was considered even more important? Bottom line is you need both types of d’men … and as long as he can play defense properly from a positional standpoint, as long as his overall hockey IQ is high, the fact he’s 5’10 isn’t a huge issue. Besides, the kid is 18. He may very well grow an inch or two and tack on another 15-20+ pounds over the course of the next couple of years.

      We have the 9th pick, you draft the best talent available in that spot. If it turns out to be Hughes, grab him.

        1. Leetch wasn’t that tall either (6’, 185 lbs was his playing size). He was definitely on the smaller side for D when he played, particularly weight-wise. By any season’s end he was probably playing at 175-180 lbs.

          1. I’ve stood next to Leetch, he’s taller than 6’. Not much taller, but taller than 6’.

            1. I did as well right after he was drafted and saw him play numerous times at Avon, he was no better than 5’11. Probably 5’10 and 1/2″.

      1. Right exactly my point, Leetch played defense well he wasn’t a one dimensional player. My point you’re missing is it shouldn’t only be about offense, a D-Man has to play both ends. You need one or two like that and the rest should be stay at home D-Men.

        1. Clearly you didn’t read the post, where I specifically stated Hughes is good positionally and in the transition game.

          Just because he may lose a battle in front CURRENTLY, doesn’t mean he is bad. FFS, he’s likely a top-five pick.

      2. Right you are Tanto, thats how to build, from the net out. Best player, best player, best player keep going….. that should be the mantra. Forget position and do not draft a goalie with your first 2 rounds of picks…….best player. After the draft and free agents, with a new coach and assistants, and new systems, practice practice practice have a water and forget all AV taught. Basic building blocks, get’em all on the same page. There are some really good players that will surprise after AV.

      3. With Beauk riding shot gun for Brian, his size wasn’t an issue, but we don’t have anyone like Jeff today who will clear the crease, and move bodies around. I would prefer the best athlete get drafted, and if I go for defense, I’d like a little more muscle than this kid has!!!!!!!!!

        1. that crease-clearing guy wouldn’t have been able to do his job anyway, since the defense is usually not playing net side. he would be out of position every time under that system. but it will very interesting to see if there is a systematic change to the way D are deployed around the net. If I recall, the fronting has a lot to do with Hank’s preference?

    2. I know what you’re saying, but if your only strong suit is defense or at least try to play defense, the way the league is now, then you won’t be an NHL D man for very long.

      Shatty, when he’s healthy, can suck at D but it won’t matter based the other things that he can do. Skating ability is a must and so is passing, as a D man, as the team’s offense starts at the back end and coming up ice.

      It was hard to tell because the team was so bad after the trade deadline, but one thing that was very noticeable was the fact that they came out of their own end much better than earlier in the season.

      And BTW, I know you didn’t say it, but I would take 6 Pionks, thank yo very much. Kid’s a player. He will break out this year with a good coach who actually has a structure and system.

      1. Pionk makes very quick decisions with the puck, for his size, his not afraid to use use his body to separate the puck from an opposing player, and chips in on the play when needed.

        In my opinion, when Pionk was paired with Staal, Marc Staal play was a little bit better because he had a partner( Pionk), who had an idea what to do what the puck when it was on his stick, unlike Nick Holden who the former Coach kept running out their and giving top minutes.

  6. Don’t know much about Hughes, but don’t we have enough young defenseman at the moment? Would rather try to find a winger who can snipe.

    1. Me too but the guys available at #9 to justify that pick will be gone, Wahlstrom being the last one to be picked.

      Farabee is next on the list but I don’t see him at 9. 11-15? Sure. If anything, take both back end picks and move up to get him.

      1. Would not be too surprised if Gorton reaches and picks Farabee. Sounds like that leadership/character kind of player he’s been talking about.

        I would prefer to see Wahlstrom drop to 9, but I’d be ok if Rangers picked Farabee.

        1. Right Brett, on the type of player that Gorton is looking for. You don’t have to be a bruiser, just tough to play against.

          From what I have read, Farabee is a tireless worker on the ice. A trait that Gorton is looking for.

      2. Yep – that was my exact reply on the other column….we have those 2 back end pix, and if a guy like Farabee starts falling..well, hmmm.

  7. This kid could be the next Brian Leetch. They are roughly the same size when drafted and Hughes will get both a bit taller, maybe 6 0′ and 190-200 when he turns 22.

    He can control shifts all by him self much like Leetch could. I am a fan. I don’t want to reach for another safe 2/3 line center or wing at 9. We can do that at 25.

    1. Spot on about growth potential for Hughes, and on Leetch’s size when he played. It seems Leetch has grown in the memory of many Ranger fans.

  8. So, what you guys are saying is that this kid, at 18 years old, won’t get stronger and will weigh 170 lbs for the rest of his life?

    You guys amuse me.

    1. Assuming they have better weight training now?

      Jun 22, 1986 – Brian Leetch, the exceptional defenseman from the Avon Old Farms School in Avon, Conn., was the Rangers’ first-round choice in today’s National … Leetch, 5 feet 11 and 185 pounds, is commuting daily to Avon this summer from his home in Cheshire, Conn., to work out on the Nautilus weight machines.

    2. No Dave, all things being equal in hockey skill talent. A big guy will beat the smaller man everytime. Its simple physics.

      The early draft picks should be used on larger talented hockey players and the later picks on smaller talented players. The common denominator being skill level. As no matter what a players physical stature is, without hockey talent they aren’t going to make it.

  9. How many 5-10 180 d men can you collect?

    Can Hughes cover lars eller or whoever it was with a minute left in front of the net?

    1. If they are good players, as many as you can find.

      Because, you know, 18 year olds have reached peak growth and strength.

    2. Agentsmith—attitudes like these are why you lost repeatedly to Neo in the Matrix trilogy. Life is full of surprises.

  10. 6’0″, 180 lbs.: “Will certainly grow more, and might even blossom into a crusher someday!”

    5’10”, 170 lbs.: “Will never possibly grow more; might even shrink. Can’t take the risk. BURN THAT HOBBIT/SMURF ALIVE, RIGHT NOW!”

  11. The Rangers already have enough smurfs defensemen in their organization. Like Fred Shero was said….get me some big guys I will win you a Stanley Cup.

    1. Sid Crosby—5’11”, 200 lbs
      Phil Kessel—6’, 200 lbs
      Kris Letang—6’, 200 lbs
      Drew Doughty—6’, 200 lbs
      Patrick Kane—5’11”, 180 lbs
      Duncan Keith—6’1”, 190 lbs

      All these players are multiple Cup winners, and played important roles in attaining those titles. All of these guys are not big. Funny how their talent defeated bigger players throughout multiple playoff series. It’s almost as if the idea that size wins Cups is a toothless cliché.

  12. #9 Kotkaniemi, top rated center. Scored like rantannen in Finland in mens league. Looked great at U18. Big, smooth skater, poised with the puck. Flying up the charts. Don’t want the 5th d-man taken who will be small. Don’t think Bouchard or Dobson are available. Probably Boqvist. Rather have 1st center. Hayton or veleno too., I like veleno eveytime i see him. Patrice Bergeron type who wants the puck. Carries it up the ice end to end but poised in zone and on pp . Never saw hayton.

    1. I do not know this player as well as some of the others in the draft, but it sounds like he is moving up the draft rankings.

      1. Kotkaniemi would be a solid pick at 9, imo….however if Boqvist happens to still be there? Man I would have a hard time not taking him.

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