As the end of the 2018 offseason winds down and the 2019 season quickly approaches, it’s time to turn our attention ahead to the 2019 NHL Draft. Although it may be a bit early to start draft discussions, one thing that’s for sure is that Jack Hughes will almost certainly be selected 1st overall.
Jack Hughes, 17, is the middle child in the Hughes family and just recently witnessed his older brother Quinn be selected 7th overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2018 NHL Draft. Listed at 5’10 and 161lbs, Hughes could be the smallest top pick since Patrick Kane was selected 1st overall in the 2007 NHL Draft, then listed at 5’10” and 171lbs. Despite needing to bulk up a bit, Hughes’ frame should be no cause for concern come June.
Last season Hughes played for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program posting sensational numbers tallying 40 goals and 116 points, just one point shy of the program record set by Auston Matthews. What makes this more impressive is that Hughes accomplished this feat a year earlier than Matthews at 16, displaying his pure ability and talent.
Hughes also dazzled on the international stage last year captaining Team USA to a 5-1-0-0 record winning the World U17 Hockey Challenge leading the team with 5 goals and 15 points in 6 games. Hughes also played for Team USA at the U18 World Junior Championships coming just shy of a gold medal leading the team with 5 goals and 12 points in 7 games en route to a silver medal.
Jack Hughes has incredible vision, hockey IQ and hands while also boasting incredible foot speed which helps him get to all areas of the ice. Although still 10 months away, Craig Button, TSN’s resident GM and Director of Scouting, discussed his current top 5 picks right now for the 2019 NHL Draft and says that he doesn’t believe anyone will catch or overtake Hughes as the top pick.
“There is no doubt in mind, I don’t think there’s any chance he’ll be caught,” Button said. “Jack Hughes was nothing short of brilliant. He is going to shatter records for points. He will be the number one center for the USA (World Juniors) this coming December in Vancouver and Victoria.”
As Hughes enters his draft year he has chosen to remain with the U.S National Team Developmental Program opposed to attending college a year early at the University of Michigan.
“I just felt like the NTDP was the best spot for my development,” Hughes said via Mike G. Morreale of NHL.com. “I love my teammates, my coaches, the resources and love being able to put on the USA jersey. I tell everyone no one trains as hard as us at the NTDP. We’re working out in-season, skating four times a week, and playing games on top of that.”
Despite still needing to prove himself in the upcoming season that he should be taken 1st overall, Hughes has done all the right things up until now to ensure he is the first player with his name called at the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver. If his projections hold true, which barring massive decline or injury I think will hold true, Hughes will be the 8th American born player selected 1st overall following Brian Lawton (1983), Mike Modano (1988), Bryan Berard (1995), Rick DiPietro (2000), Erik Johnson (2006), Patrick Kane (2007) and Matthews (2016).