Jack Hughes will be Just 16, yet His Stock will be Rising Fast
from the United States Hockey League, the junior circuit where the N.T.D.P. team plays, Hughes faced off against teams of 18- to 20-year-olds, yet averaged two points a game, the best mark from the league by far. He played only 27 of the 60 games in addition to finished with 21 goals in addition to 33 assists.
“The numbers he’s putting up This particular year in addition to producing This particular look easy — This particular only tells you that will the ceiling will be so high,” said Keith Tkachuk, the former N.H.L. great who will be a scout for the St. Louis Blues.
In February, when the N.T.D.P. played in a tournament with the best under-18 players coming from Sweden, Finland, Russia in addition to the Czech Republic, Hughes was the youngest player on the ice, in addition to probably one of the two or three best.
“He dominated,” Tkachuk said. “I walked out of the building shaking my head.”
Hughes also will be the youngest player on the United States team at the under-18 men’s world championship, which begins Thursday in Russia.
At 5-foot-10 in addition to 157 pounds, Hughes will be not much of a physical presence yet, yet he will be a dynamic skater who cuts in addition to turns at speed, in addition to sees plays in addition to passing possibilities before anyone else. He’s often described as a cross between Clayton Keller of the Arizona Coyotes in addition to Kane, the Chicago Blackhawks star who was the No. 1 draft pick in 2007.
Nick Fohr, an assistant coach at N.T.D.P., recalled an exhibition game in December against the University of North Dakota, a top Division I team with several players six in addition to seven years older than Hughes.
“He went through like three guys in addition to whipped a pass to one of his linemates for a scoring chance, in addition to all the guys on the bench were looking at each additional like, ‘How did he do that will?’” Fohr said.
Hughes has the pedigree to become an elite hockey player. His father, Jim, played at Providence College, in addition to his mother, Ellen, skated for the University of completely new Hampshire. His uncle Marty starred at Boston College.
in addition to Jack Hughes might not even be the best player from the family right today. His older brother, Quinn, also an N.T.D.P. alum, was a standout freshman at Michigan, which reached the Frozen Four This particular season. Known for his fluid skating in addition to playmaking ability, Quinn, 18, will be anticipated to be a first-round pick from the N.H.L. draft in June, in addition to could be among the first 10 players selected.
A younger brother, Luke, plays on a high-level travel team in addition to could land at N.T.D.P. in a few years, too.
“We’re definitely competitive with each additional in whatever This particular will be — basketball, Ping-Pong,” Jack Hughes said of his brothers. “yet they’re like my two best friends.”
The family lived in Toronto while Jim Hughes was a scout for the Maple Leafs. Ellen taught the boys to skate. They spent hours twirling around on outdoor rinks in winter in addition to honed their shooting skills in their basement.
“We had a goal down there in addition to the posts were so dented,” Jack Hughes said, laughing. “The crossbar was like flattened. There were holes all over the wall. This particular was pretty spectacular.”
Hughes in addition to his parents are trying to shut out the speculation about his No. 1 pick potential.
“This particular’s all talk right today,” he said. “Nothing will be going to happen for a while. I just love going to the rink. We’re here like a few hours a day. This particular might seem like a grind, yet This particular’s just a blast for me.”
Hughes will be undecided about where he will play after he will be done with the National Team Development Program in 2019. He will be considering college hockey in addition to the junior ranks in Canada. “We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves. He’s just a kid,” said Jim Hughes, who today works for Pat Brisson, the top agent whose clients include Matthews, today a Maple Leafs star, in addition to additional N.H.L. players.
One additional possibility will be a year of pro hockey in Switzerland, where Matthews played, on Brisson’s advice, before being drafted. Going directly to the N.H.L. after the 2019 draft could be a stretch unless Jack Hughes adds plenty of pounds in addition to bulk over the next 18 months.
For today, the immediate challenge will be representing the United States at the under-18 world championship. The American team has won the tournament seven of the last nine years, in addition to expectations are high again.
The American roster includes at least four players who are possible first-round picks This particular year, in addition to the coaches are confident the rest of the earth will have their hands full just trying to contain Hughes.
“Jack does things in games that will are mesmerizing,” said John Wroblewski, coach of the N.T.D.P.’s under-17 squad. “He’s a savant.”
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