With the the fourth pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, the have selected Luke Hughes of the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP)
About Luke Hughes
The Hughes clan will become one of the most dominant families in NHL history, with each of the three brothers warranting high first-round selections. Luke Hughes, however, is a different flavor of blueliner compared to his brother, Quinn.
Related: THW’s 2021 NHL Draft Guide
Because of his September birthday, Luke finds himself as one of the youngest eligible players in this year’s class. Despite his age, the future Michigan Wolverine totaled four goals and 15 points in 18 United States Hockey League (USHL) games, and six goals and 34 points in 38 USNTDP matches.
Hughes missed the conclusion of his 2020-21 season due to lower-body injury, and took large precaution to set himself up for a quality 2021-22 season at the University of Michigan.
THW Prospect Profile Excerpt
“Like his brothers, Hughes’ strength lies in his skating, mobility and high-end offensive awareness. He has a very smooth stride with great speed, as he’s always a threat when rushing the play. He has no problem starting with the puck behind his net and quickly moves it up with a snap of a finger. When he reaches top speed, it’s very difficult to try and slow him down him from entering the offensive zone as he blows by the opposition with ease. He has great edges and knows when to pick the right lanes in order to get into open areas on the ice.
“When the puck is on his stick, he has great control and his size allows him to protect the puck extremely well, making entries very easy for him. He has great hands that allow him to weave and stick handle without any issues in high traffic areas. He’s very crisp with his passing and puck movement as he’s able to move the play quickly and find his teammates effectively. In addition, he’s very efficient at stretching the play to make a long breakout pass from his own end for a quick counter attack.
“Hughes loves to the shoot the puck as he posses a great shot. Whenever an opportunity arises for him to get the puck on net at the right time, he will. He likes to cut into the high danger area for a quick release without any issue. His speed allows him to jump into the rush or even navigate the entire offensive zone while managing to get a scoring opportunity on net. He does need to work on his accuracy but that will come with time.
“As mentioned the biggest concern regarding Hughes was consistency in his decision-making on the defensive side of the puck. There were times where he would jump and attack quite a bit, getting caught out of position. As a younger player in this draft and as the season progressed there was noticeable improvement in this aspect of his game as he seemed more aware of his surroundings and anticipated plays better. With his size, Hughes does have the ability to pressure opponents very well when pursuing and battling for the puck.”
How This Affects the Devils’ Plans
Jack and Luke Hughes will be united!
The left-shot mobile defenseman will be joining a rebuilding group of young blueliners in Ryan Graves, Jonas Siegenthaler, and Ty Smith. Hughes surely will shoot to the top of the depth chart when he eventually makes the leap to the NHL.
Hughes will play at least one season at the University of Michigan before joining his brother in the NHL. He will become a possible top-pairing defenseman as the Devils begin their rebuild to return as a dominant force in the NHL.
Josh Frojelin is a young writer from the Bay Area. Josh grew up as a Sharks fan, being introduced to hockey by his father. He is now attached to his phone, waiting to hear the latest in hockey news. In addition to writing, Josh loves theatre, and his corgi Rocky.