2019 NHL Draft Profile: Jack Hughes

Previous posts: Kaapo Kakko.

It is truly amazing that I can write these profiles and have them be about the top players available in the draft. The best I’ve been able to look at is the 10th overall. Now with the Rangers drafting 2nd overall, and the Devils not tipping their hand at if they are actually going to pass on Jack Hughes and take Kaapo Kakko, we get to look at both.

Hughes, the consensus #1 overall pick for most of the season, tore up the USNTDP this year with a line of 21-39-60 in just 24 games in exhibition for the U18 team, followed by 12-36-48 with the club in the USHL in just 24 games. The 17 year old won’t turn 18 until May, and he is another truly elite talent, like Kakko.

Hughes, a center, has elite level speed and vision to go with that elite skill set he possesses. He puts passes on the tape on the rush, and these passes are difficult to make at the speed he’s moving. He seems to be a step ahead of the opposition, both in terms of speed and mental capacity. It’s his hockey sense is what folks seems to love the most, as you add that to his first step and passing ability and it makes him a true playmaker. The combination of elite hockey sense and elite talent is what sets the best above the rest. He’s no McDavid, but he’s on the level just below.

From his stats, you can see he isn’t just a pure playmaker either. He uses his skating, edge work, and balance in conjunction with his hands – which keep up with the rest of his skills – to get to the net on a regular basis. His soft hands work well with his quick release and lethal wrist shot. He isn’t the biggest or strongest guy, but it doesn’t matter if you can’t catch him, which is his biggest strength. The 17 year old will grow some muscle, so the size and strength will be a non-factor in years to come.

Hughes, as you can imagine, excels in the transition game. He forces turnovers with those quick hands and turns the play to offensive quickly. In a transition based NHL game nowadays, that skill is invaluable.

Here is a highlight reel of Hughes, and you can see what I mean by nothing matters if you can’t catch him. He eludes defenders well while crashing the net. He is also adept at drawing defenders before dishing the puck at the last second to an open man. Offensively, he is the most talented player in the draft. He is the #1 overall pick for a reason.

Despite this, there is still a chance that the Devils take Kakko, who some pundits have as the top pick, and the Rangers get Hughes. This is not a bad thing by any means. No matter what, the Rangers are getting a franchise altering player. Whichever one you want, it’s just different flavor icing on the same cake.

"2019 NHL Draft Profile: Jack Hughes", 5 out of 5 based on 8 ratings.
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  1. I can’t see the Devs passing on Highes, but if they do, then great. Having a Zib/Hughes/Strome/Howden center line up is not too shabby.

    Then add a scoring winger and we are good to go. But I see the Devs taking Hughes.

  2. Like Tony stated above, I believe that the Devils draft Hughes. Now having said that we may all be surprised if they don’t, and go for Kakko. That is the proper order of the draft, and stranger things have happened, but in any case we get quality for our pick. My preference is Kakko, but I sure as heck would never complain if we get Hughes!!!!!!!!

    The decision isn’t our’s to make, NJ has plenty of word as to who we get!!!!!!!!!!

    1. I have heard that the Devs’ management has ties to the Hughes family, so…

      Besides, how hilarious would it be to have all those interviews with just Hughes during the lottery show and then he does not go #1? I think they already knew as the draft order was determined before the show started. Hence the sour pusses on some of the team representatives, lol.

  3. What a wonderful position for the Rangers to be in! Either Hughes or Kakko will be terrific additions.

  4. Hughes? Why would we want an elite game-managing, pace-controlling, super play-making center that can score? Even Quinn would probably play this kid 22 minutes each night! Heck of a consolation prize if Devs take Kakko.

  5. Hughes goes first – and with the second pick of the 2019 NHL draft the NY Rangers select (OMG not again) . . Let’s hope Gordie sticks with the script this time and selects Kakko and not some Swedish goalie.

  6. The Devils will take Hughes. The shame is that we’ll salivate over him now, and then hate his guts for the next 15 years lol.

    But at this point in time, it’s better to pick him 1st and have it be the “worse” player of the two than it is to leave him there for your arch rival. If they pick Hughes and he is somewhat less of a player, it will still be considered a good pick. If they pick Kakko, and give the better Hughes to they NYR, it will be one of the dumbest moves ever.

    Kakko would have to be a much better player in the long run to have it work out as a good move for the NJD. That’s the math they’re doing… and it just isn’t there. Maybe we’d get Hughes if the Devils hire the tandem of Mike Milbury & Garth Snow to run the draft for them this year.

  7. I say potato, you say tomato, I say tomato, you say potato, … potato, tomato, tomato, potato let’s call the whole thing off … either way, we win and all the pressure is on NJ to make the “right” call, if there is a right call to be made. Their hands are tied, they have to take Hughes … our hands are tied, we have to take Kakko.

  8. Hughes is the premier talent. Kakko has a lot to offer: elite talent, bigger, stronger, closer to NHL ready. For Rangers possibly a better fit as a wing. So it’s easy to opt for Kakko.

    I remember the McDavid Eichel year. The issues were different but some talked themselves into saying Eichel was the better choice.

    Hughes is more likely to be a superstar.To me he is the clear choice, even if Kakko is an awesome second choice. And we have the added benefit of having no choice in the matter; so we take what comes our way.

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