2020-21 Team: US National Development Team Program
Date of Birth: September 9, 2003
Place of Birth: Canton, MI, USA
Ht: 6-foot-2 Wt: 176 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 4th (amongst NA skaters)
- Future Considerations: 1st
- Recruit Scouting: 1st
- Peter Baracchini’s March Rankings: 5th
- Andrew Forbes’ February Rankings: 5th
- Matthew Zator’s February Rankings: 7th
- Smaht Scouting: 3rd
- Bob McKenzie’s Rankings: 10th
- Dobber Prospects Mid- Season Rankings: 5th
If you’re a fan of either Quinn or Jack Hughes, then you’re definitely going to be a fan of Luke, the youngest brother of the Hughes family to make their mark at the NHL Draft. Hughes’ draft season had a rocky start, as there was some questions marks with his decision-making. Since then, he’s continued to drastically improve his overall play and catch the eye of scouts as he’s now one of the top defenders in this draft. Among defensemen in their draft year, Hughes is among the top at his position in even strength primary points per game (EV P1/GP) with 0.38 according to Pick 224.
Related: 2021 NHL Draft Guide
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.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Luke Hughes- NHL Draft Projection
Many rankings think that Hughes is a potential top-10 pick. Though with the progress he made, he’s put himself in the conversation in the top-five or even first overall with the potential that he has. With an uncertain draft like this it’s very possible. If he falls outside the top-five, like his brother Quinn, then that team is going to be very happy.
“Of all of the top players in the class, he has arguably taken the biggest step forward. His offensive timing has improved and his defensive game continues to show progress. He is utilizing his mobility much more at both ends of the ice but not just for rushes down the wall or around the zone. Hughes is skating with a purpose when the puck is on his stick. Whether he’s walking the blueline with his impressive lateral mobility or cutting into the home plate area with his agility and quickness, Hughes understands how to be put pressure on his opponents. The biggest reason that he’s been able to take this step is that he has been exhibiting an advanced awareness of the play. He understands what is happening all over the ice and playing the angle and using his skill. Hughes will continue to be one to watch as he pushes towards the top of many draft rankings.”- Tony Ferrari, Dobber Prospects
“The big thing that separates Luke from his peers, no surprise given his name, is his elite skating and edgework. The ability to create space for himself with the puck by turning on a dime, or with a quick first step makes him impossible to defend against. His vision and playmaking ability has already made him an offensive driver on the NTDP U17s, and has even shown more ability to shoot the puck than Quinn has to this point in his career. A Quinn Hughes that scores more points is a very exciting prospect.”- Chris Dilks, SB Nation College Hockey
“Aside from Hughes’ skating, my second favorite attribute about the left-handed defenseman is his soft hands. Soft hands are always a great thing to have when you are distributing the puck, shifting around an attacker with the puck or trying to deliver a cross ice feed. While there are certainly moments where Hughes is more jumpy and a bit rough with his feeds, most of the time Hughes is delivering smooth feeds to teammates. In addition, his handy work also pays off when he takes the outside lane and shifts around an attacker while he is rushing up the ice.”- Josh Tessler, Smaht Scouting
- Puck movement
- Offensive Awareness
Under Construction- Improvements to Make
- Continue with consistency on defensive side
- Decision making
Much like his older brother, Luke has a very good chance to be a top pairing, puck moving defenseman. His puck-moving abilities and shooter mentality makes him a number one power play quarterback. He joins a growing list of younger defenders that will take the league by storm.
Risk- Reward Analysis
Risk- 2/5, Reward 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense- 8/10, Defense 7/10
In 2019-20, Hughes won a silver medal for Team USA at the U17 World Hockey Challenge.
Luke Hughes Statistics
Hockey has been a big part of my life since watching my first Leafs game to currently coaching minor hockey. I previously interned at The Hockey News and worked on Toronto Marlies broadcasts for Rogers TV. Aside from hockey, I also enjoy drumming, animation and impressions/ voices.