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Undersized Hughes Stands Tall as High NHL Draft Prospect

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BUFFALO, N.Y. — Dan Marr will always remember the primary time Jack Hughes landed on his radar as a possible prime NHL draft prospect.

It occurred final summer season, when the NHL Central Scouting director was attending a expertise camp in Toronto.

United States’ Jack Hughes (AP Picture/Petr David Josek, File)

After itemizing New Jersey’s Taylor Corridor, Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and then-Islanders captain John Tavares as the most effective three gamers on the ice, Marr added: “The following finest participant was Jack Hughes.”

Even at 5-foot-10 and 170 kilos, Marr mentioned the 17-year-old stood out for a wide range of causes.

“It was a collection of drills that they had been doing that concerned skating, quickness, pace, execution, precision. And straight away you would see he already has an NHL shot,” Marr mentioned Friday, talking on the NHL’s annual pre-draft scouting mix being held in Buffalo. “So he’s obtained the expertise that he belongs in that group.”

Little or no has occurred to alter Marr or anybody else’s thoughts since.

From Orlando, Florida, Hughes is Central Scouting’s top-ranked North American skater after spending the previous two seasons setting USA Hockey Nationwide Crew Growth Program’s file by combining for 228 factors (74 objectives, 154 assists) in 110 video games.

Associated: Jack Hughes – 2019 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

Finland’s Kaapo Kakko is the top-ranked European skater after finishing a season through which he helped his nation full a gold-medal sweep of worldwide titles by profitable the world championship final weekend, the world junior title in January and the Below-18 title final 12 months.

Hughes vs. Kakko

The 2 are projected to be chosen with one of many two prime picks — the Devils choose first adopted by the New York Rangers — on the NHL draft at Vancouver, British Columbia on June 21-22.

After joking he’d look good in both a pink Devils’ or blue Rangers’ jersey, Hughes mentioned he’d clearly favor to go first.

“You at all times dream of being No. 1,” Hughes mentioned. “You don’t dream of being two, three or 4 while you’re a younger child.”

Hughes can also be conscious of how he and Kakko will draw comparisons with the probability of the 2 taking part in on Metropolitan Division rivals.

“We’ll be linked to one another for lots of years with the Rangers and Devils proper there,” Hughes mentioned.

Associated: Kaapo Kakko – 2019 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

Kakko isn’t attending the mix as a result of the weeklong occasion, which incorporates player-team interviews and medical testing, started a day after Finland beat Canada to win the world championships in Slovakia on Sunday.

Kaapo Kakko of Finland (Picture by Kevin Gentle/Getty Photos)

“It has zero impact actually,” Marr mentioned about Kakko’s absence. “I believe the groups perceive that. And the groups on the prime, they’re simply going to need to spend just a little bit extra time with him when he comes over for the draft.”

The 2 gamers differ in measurement and magnificence of play.

Hughes & Kakko Very Totally different Gamers

At 6-foot-2 and 194 kilos, Kakko is thought for his goal-scoring potential and regarded extra of an influence ahead.

He led Finland with six objectives in 10 video games on the World Championship. His 22 objectives within the Finnish Elite League final season had been essentially the most by a draft-eligible participant.

Hughes is a swift-skating, play-making centre. He comes from a hockey household. His brother Quinn Hughes is a defenceman who was chosen by Vancouver with the No. 7 choose within the draft final 12 months. His father, Jim Hughes, is a former hockey coach, who additionally served because the Toronto Maple Leafs director of participant improvement.

United States’ Quinn Hughes (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)Crew USA’s Jack Hughes (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Carlos Osorio)Hughes credit the time he spend taking part in youth hockey in Toronto as taking part in a key function in his improvement.

“Toronto’s in all probability the capital of the hockey world. You win the Higher Toronto Hockey League finals, you assume it’s the Stanley Cup,” he mentioned. “Do I believe I’d be the participant I’m right now with out Toronto? Most likely not. … That’s the rationale I’m right here right now.”

Hughes additionally performed on the worlds and completed with 4 assists in 4 video games for america, which was eradicated by Russia within the quarterfinal spherical.

Hughes & His Idol Patrick Kane

Among the many highlights was getting the chance to play with NHL stars comparable to Chicago’s Patrick Kane.

Hughes grew up idolizing Kane as they’re each under-sized forwards who play an identical fashion.

It got here as a shock to Hughes upon listening to Kane pay him a praise by telling NHL.com he believes Hughes “does a whole lot of issues higher than me.”

“You nearly assume he’s filled with (baloney),” Hughes mentioned, earlier than itemizing the three Stanley Cups and quite a few different awards Kane has gained. “You title it, he’s obtained it. To listen to your title out of his mouth is one factor. To listen to him say these good issues about you really reveals how good of an individual he’s.”

Associated: Our Free NHL Draft Information

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Extra AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

John Wawrow, The Related Press

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