2017-18 Team: University of Michigan (#43)
Date of Birth: October 14, 1999
Place of Birth: Orlando, FL
Ht: 5’10” Wt: 174 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2018 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting Mid-Term: 4th (North American)
- Future Considerations: 6th (Winter)
- hockeyprospect.com: 7th (March)
- ISS Hockey: 7th (April)
- McKeen’s Hockey: 9th (Midseason)
Fast risers always get attention in the hockey world. Perhaps one of the fastest risers in the last several years is Michigan standout defenseman Quinn Hughes. His rise began with the same team as the great Connor McDavid, the Toronto Marlboros.
Hughes was one of the leading scorers on that Marlboros’ team despite being one of the youngest on the roster. It was from that moment that there was something special developing. It came to light after he joined the USNDT. He became the first player in USHL history to average a point per game in the seasons leading up to the draft. This is better than the likes of Charlie McAvoy and Seth Jones.
Hughes then went to Michigan and put up a very respectable line of 5-24-29 in 37 games. As a comparison, Zach Werenski put up a line of 9-16-25 in 35 games in his draft season at Michigan. Hughes and the Wolverines got to the Frozen Four before losing a tough game to Notre Dame. Werenski went back to Michigan for one more season but was 17 at the time of the draft. Hughes has a late birthday and is already 18. It’ll be interesting to see if he gives Michigan one more try.
So what do we get in Hughes? We get perhaps the offensive defenseman with the highest upside in this entire draft. Two things stand out at an elite level: his skating and playmaking. He can create separation and parlay that into meaningful transition. His vision and awareness on the ice are outstanding. His poise with the puck is something beautiful to watch. No matter what’s going on around him, he plays under control.
While the offense is elite, Hughes does need to improve on the defensive end. He doesn’t win many puck battles especially when games halt to a grind. Part of the reason for this is that he is undersized. A big priority for Hughes will be gaining size and strength to hang in with bigger, stronger skaters. I’d also like to see him improve away from the puck. This will improve as his overall defense continues to get better. When he learns to get into better defensive position, he’ll be an even scarier offensive threat.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Quinn Hughes – NHL Draft Projection
The question with Hughes is if he’ll hear his name within the top-five. Given his offensive upside, teams will have a decision to make. Without question he is a lottery pick and will hear his name in the top-10. He checks in at 7th on my list.
“Hughes is a small but highly–skilled puck-mover…a strong skater who possesses impressive four-way mobility…gets up to top speed in just a couple short strides…transitions smoothly and keeps up with his opponents, even those who are shifty and the fleetest of foot…a constant puck-rushing threat who makes impulse choices to join the rush when he sees open ice and has the quickness and soft mitts to remain in control of the puck at high speeds…confidently jumps off the line and lets his skillset go to work when getting looks at the net…shoots and passes with intent…his ability to retrieve pucks under pressure and kickstart the breakout is impressive, as is his ability to aleviate pressure…mobile little defender is skilled and speedy but still has to learn to manage his own zone better…possesses an active stick and smarts that he uses to strip pucks from unsuspecting opponents, and then like a flash he is gone on offense…regularly gets outmuscled when physically defending…has the potential to become a solid puck-rusher and power play specialist at the NHL level. ” –Future Considerations
“Smooth-skating offensive defenseman with superior command of his puck control and distribution, Hughes is the very best of a talented group of American draft-eligible rearguards. Raised and nurtured within a deeply-rooted hockey family, the current freshman at Michigan is one of the NCAA’s top newcomers and became an instant go-to option on a team loaded with NHL prospects and quality upperclassmen. The first thing you notice about Hughes is his calmness with the puck — he rarely, if ever, gets frazzled or frustrated in the face of a relentless or physical opponent. His ability to maintain control of the puck under harrowing circumstances is excellent, but it’s the plays he makes immediately after eluding pressure that sets him apart from the significant majority of not only his draft peers, but all defensemen in college hockey.” –Steve Kournianos/The Draft Analyst
“After an intial feeling out phase as the NCAA’s youngest player, Hughes has be entering dominant mode. The Michigan state defender has turned things on at the right time for the Wolverines, recording 15 points in his last 14 games to help thrust his squad to the Frozen Four Semi Final that takes place Thursday, April 5th. Hughes now sits with five goals and 29 points in 36 freshman games and is being considered by many as the second best defensive prospect in this upcoming draft. For comparison sake, the 5’10 rearguard outproduced fellow 2018 draft pick and forward, Brady Tkachuk and has more points than 2017 fourth overall pick, Cale Makar as a first year NCAA player. Hughes blends exquisite edgework with blistering acceleration and a mind for creating offense. He’s a one man breakout machine and could challenge Filip Zadina for third overall when names are being called in Dallas this June.” -Cam Robinson/Dobber Prospects
- Excellent skater
- Elite offense
- Great playmaker
- Handles pressure well
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Size and strength
- Overall play in defensive zone
Hughes projects as a top pairing defenseman who will help anchor a team’s blue line for many years to come. Although he isn’t the complete package like a Rasmus Dahlin, Hughes is an excellent consolation prize for those that miss out on winning the lottery.
Risk – 3.5/5, Reward – 5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 10/10, Defence – 5.5/10
Hughes won a gold medal for Team USA at the U18 WJC in 2016-17. He was named to the B1G All-Rookie Team and Second All-Star Team in 2017-18. He also won a bronze at the U20 WJC.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2021-22 season will mark eight seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.