2021-22 Team: Northeastern University (NCAA)
Date of Birth: Nov. 2, 2003
Place of Birth: Westwood, MA
Ht: 6-foot Wt: 165 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 26 (Amongst NA Skaters)
- FC Hockey: 57
- TSN/Bob McKenzie: 27
- Dobber Prospects: 25
- Smaht Scouting: 29
- The Hockey Writers (Forbes): 42
- The Hockey Writers (Zator): 53
- The Hockey Writers (Baracchini): 55
Jack Hughes (no relation to the Jack Hughes selected first overall by the New Jersey Devils in 2019), is a very good, dependable and hard-working two-way center. The son of Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes, Jack has been surrounded by the game of hockey his entire life. It shows, too, when watching Hughes play.
A tenacious center who isn’t afraid to play physically, Hughes can definitely be described as a team-first player. His ability to think quickly, maneuver masterfully along the boards and stickhandle at a nearly elite level give him a high floor that endears him to his coaching staff.
Though he has a very good, heavy shot and the ability to score goals in close and off of rebounds, Hughes is certainly a playmaking center first. Though his ceiling may never be that of a player like Ryan Getzlaf or a David Krejci, there are similarities in the way these three players operate as far as slowing the game down and making the team-first play rather than taking a shot just for the sake of shooting.
While his vision and passing are both excellent, his desire to make a flashy pass has often lauded him both praise and criticism. The praise obviously followed the numerous successful attempts at no-look, backhand spin passes. The criticism, however, followed the unsuccessful ones that led to turnovers right in the middle of the ice. Still, he did seem to real that in as the season went on which led to fewer risky plays, but also fewer highlight-reel worthy snippets.
When he isn’t trying to make the highlight reel pass, Hughes is actually really good at making plays in his own zone. This is especially true when it comes to clearing the zone in a smart, composed manner to avoid turnovers or icing calls.
Hughes isn’t one to shy away from the physical side of the game, as mentioned, and is comfortable playing in contested situations to break up plays in his defensive zone. Positioning hasn’t ever seemed to be an issue for him either and an active, smart stick helps him break up plays with more than just his body, too. This active stick has worked for him thus far, but controlling it more will be something he has to work on at the next level to avoid penalties.
In general, Hughes is a safer player than many ranked above him who may have much higher ceilings at the time of the Draft. This isn’t to say that Hughes can’t hone any of his current skills to the point where he becomes closer to that of a top-line center than a middle-six player; this is evidenced by the sheer number of players who were drafted in later rounds and still found a way to flourish in the NHL. It’s just to say that the lack multiple of high-end elite skills may be what keeps him lower in draft rankings than some of his peers.
Related: THW 2022 Draft Guide
He may generate the same star power that his name-sake Jack Hughes does, but that doesn’t mean that the 2022 Draft-eligible Hughes can’t still be a successful NHL player all the same.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Jack Hughes – Draft Projection
Given the high floor but the unclear ceiling of a player like Hughes, it’s hard to imagine him going early in the first round but also hard to envision him falling outside of the second round. Realistically speaking, his skill set should translate well to the NHL. Teams looking for a possible middle-six center may see him as the perfect candidate to select somewhere in the second round of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. Hughes going somewhere in the range of 45-60 feels like a safe estimation.
“Played a major role as Hockey East’s Player of the Week, helping the Huskies to their first regular season Hockey East title.” Sam Cosentino – Sportsnet
“I see a diligent two-way centre who skates well (this quality is underrated by some, I’d argue), possesses excellent hands, has a great deal of poise under pressure, and thrives as a distributor when backdoor options open up. He doesn’t have star power, but I won’t be surprised if becomes a good middle-six pivot in the NHL.” – Scott Wheeler, The Athletic (from ‘Wheeler: Top 65 prospects for the 2022 NHL Draft at midseason’ The Athletic, Feb. 14, 2022)
- Hockey IQ
- Defensive awareness
Under Construction – Improvements to Make
- Willingness to shoot
- Stick control (active stick that breaks up plays but can also result in penalties at the next level)
- Dangerous passes
In a perfect world, Hughes can continue to build on his skillset and become a top-line, physical playmaking center in the NHL. In a more realistic world, though, Hughes will fall somewhere in the middle-six realm and become an effective center in all three zones.
Risk 3/5, Reward 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense 6/10, Defense 6.5/10
Hughes won a silver medal at the U17 World Hockey Challenge. He also won the NCAA (Hockey East) Championship and was named to the NCAA (Hockey East) All-Rookie Team.