Photo Credit: Jim Pierce/Northeastern Athletics
Scouting Report written by Josh Tessler
Jack Hughes is a 2022 NHL Draft eligible prospect, who hails from Westwood, Massachusetts. For those unfamiliar with Westwood, it’s a town roughly 35 minutes southwest of Boston along RT. 128/Interstate 95.
Hughes’ father is Kent Hughes, who played for the Lac St-Louis Lions in the 1980s and then played division three hockey for Middlebury College. Kent previously worked for Quartexx Management as a NHL player agent and was recently hired by the Montréal Canadiens to serve as General Manager. His uncle, Ryan Hughes played with Kent for the Lac St-Louis Lions. After his time in QMAAA, he ended up playing for Cornell University, was part of Team Canada’s World Junior Roster in 1992 (tournament was played in Füssen, Germany and Kaufbeuren, Germany) and played in three games for the Boston Bruins in 1995-96. Jack’s brother, Riley Hughes was a seventh round pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft and was selected by the New York Rangers. Riley is a junior at Northeastern University.
Jack Hughes is in his freshman season for Northeastern University. Prior to coming to Northeastern, he played for the St. Sebastian School’s varsity team and the USNTDP.
D.O.B – November 2, 2003
Nationality – USA
Draft Eligibility – 2022
Weight –165 lbs
Position – Center
Handedness – Left
Hughes’ Style Of Play
Jack Hughes loves to jump on loose pucks at net-front. He will skate hard for the puck from the neutral zone or off the draw and shoots upon netting possession of the puck in the low slot. In scenarios where he gains control of a loose puck at net front but he is facing pressure from multiple attackers, he will try a spin move and attempt a quick shot. But that often doesn’t end up deceiving the attack.
In 2-on-1 situations, when his teammate has control of the puck and is moving the puck towards the middle of the slot, Hughes keeps good pace with his teammate. His ability to keep good pace with his teammate allows the teammate to provide him with a quality short-range lateral feed opportunity and can lead to backdoor deflection goals.
If he gains control of the puck from the teammate off of a pass or he is the one carrying the puck in on a 2-on-1, he’ll position his body towards his teammate and then quickly switch to facing the net to try to confuse the opposing goaltender. Afterwards, he will then curl the puck towards his body and fires a wrist shot.
Hughes will struggle with stick-handling and puck security when facing pressure at the boards. Sometimes he will struggle to complete a wind-mill around an attacker when he’s at half-wall and looks to play the puck around the attacker, but gets stripped.
When at open ice, he will occasionally lose the puck when curling and dragging the puck when on the move. When pushing the puck slightly wide, he struggles to maintain possession. In addition, he will try to slide in between two attackers by skating vertically to them and windmill to get past but that didn’t work. While there are instances where he struggles to stick-handle around traffic or maintain possession, he has excellent hands. It’s just a few instances where he struggles to maintain possession.
When entering into the offensive zone, he will draw the attacker to him, cut left, bring the attacker with him. Then his defenseman comes into the zone, Hughes completes a drop pass while skating towards more centered ice and that allows the defender to pinch up and skate into more opened ice and then complete a pass to the slot. The manipulation offers Northeastern with a better chance of generating a high danger shot instead of Hughes trying to play the puck around the attacker.
When it comes to Hughes’ shooting and passing ability, there are some things to address throughout the course of his NCAA and AHL development. Hughes is inconsistent with his passing and shooting. The issue is that he will try to position the puck slightly too far away from his body before attempting the pass or shot. By placing the puck wide and passing or shooting, you are limiting your ability to control exactly where you want the puck to go. It will also worsen his accuracy on shots from medium and low danger. His blade won’t be aligned with the net and thus you will notice his shots going wide. With that being said, you will notice wide shots off of a quick turn and shoot from medium range. It will also worsen his accuracy on shots from medium and low danger. His blade won’t be aligned with the net and thus you will notice his shots going wide. Hughes needs to work on cradling the puck much closer to his body before attempting a shot or pass.
Even though he can be inconsistent with his shooting and passing, he attempts excellent stretch and long range passes. Hughes is trained to look for those dangerous areas and find a quality lane to exploit. Over the course of the season, I’ve seen him attempt a cross ice trajectory/route saucer pass to his teammate along the boards, spin and swing pass to the low slot and trajectory/route passes to the slot. In addition, he interestingly can get really good precision on no-look behind the back and through the legs passes.
On the power play, when positioning himself along the half-wall, sometimes he won’t grab a spot at open ice where he can manage to a get clean one-timer or a shot that will be quick and generate a scoring chance. Often he grabs a spot, in which he’ll face tight traffic and won’t have a true clear shooting lane. So, he’ll look to then pass the puck.
When going in on the forecheck, he’ll swing his stick at the puck. It doesn’t often lead to a change in possession but it is annoying for the puck carrying attacker. In situations where he might be slightly further away but still in tight proximity of the puck carrier, he will lowers his body in the forecheck in the corner to trap the puck carrier and force the carrier to dump the puck. In the corners, he will display physicality and go complete shoulder checks.
Hughes is also defensively responsible in the offensive zone. He will drop back towards the blue line and into the neutral zone if the defender pinches up with the puck but then looses possession. Hughes drops back to ensure that the other defender is not on his own to defend the rush.
The Massachusetts native has quite the active stick. When facing the attacker dead on, instead of extending his stick out to manipulate from afar, he closes in and then extends his stick out to trap the puck carrier. Hughes likes to push into the attacker in the corner, use his stick as the anchor and use his upper body to silence the attacker from being able to move the puck. If he is skating behind the puck carrier, Hughes will opt to stick lift the puck carrying defender at the blue-line if he is in range, grabs control of the puck, skates down the ice.
Hughes patrols centered ice extremely well in his own zone. He will implement tight man-on-man pressure down low near his net. You can expect him to skate in unison with the opposing center at centered ice to try to prevent a pass to the low slot. He displays good presence in the slot when an opponent has possession of the puck in the corner and the opponent’s teammate is at the red line. Hughes stands behind the opponent’s teammate to defend the slot should that individual net possession of the puck. You can often see him boxing out attackers by pushing his stick into them. If he sees an attacker that is open, he likes to skate toward the attacker when they try to come into medium danger, lower his body and force a shot from low danger.
He doesn’t just try to box attackers out in the slot. When a loose puck is entering Hughes’ defensive zone and he is alongside an attacker who is looking to skate after the puck, Hughes will box him out and shift his weight towards the attacker to keep him at bay.
When skating after a puck carrier who seems to be moving the puck at a quick pace in the corner, Hughes drifts over and bends low to trap the carrier. He lowers his body to force ill-advised puck movement.
If a teammate is engaged in a puck battle in the corner, he stands by and provides a passing lane. Stays in tow with the teammate should they skate along the boards behind his net to keep the passing lane open.
If he is in the corner facing tight pressure, he’ll stop in place, shift his weight towards the direction the he intends to go in, bend his knee and at that point he confuses the attacker. The attacker doesn’t know which direction that Hughes intends to go in and can’t respond in time when Hughes cradles the puck to his desired direction. Hughes does a great job of luring the attacker in.
When traveling up the boards and looking to instill a breakout, he can lob a dump out over traffic if he needs to. Sometimes, he will lob a puck too high up and that might cause a lot of delay of game penalties in the future. I’d like him to be more selective about lobbing pucks up and needs to work on controlling where he wants the puck to go.
He can also squeeze past an attacker when looking to complete a zone exit and facing tight traffic along the boards towards the blue line. But, as stated before, he loves to attempt beautiful highlight-reel passes and so it’s not unusual to see him attempt a saucer pass from the defensive zone to a teammate in the neutral zone near the blue line. So, while he might try to shift around the opposition, he feels more inclined to try to land a saucer pass to an open teammate.
Hughes struggles with extending his stick blade far enough to grab a hold of a loose puck or a pass. In addition, he has difficulty when curling and dragging the puck his left side. When he pushes the puck to his left side, he bobbles possession.
It is perplexing that when he cradles the puck to his right side, he doesn’t have the same issue. Hughes can curl and drag the puck to his right side when facing attackers and skating along the blue line as he looks for a lane to use to drive into the offensive zone.
While he does struggle at times with cradling the puck, he does manage to do a good job at pushing the puck up through the neutral zone one-handed when navigating around pressure.
When hunting for the puck at open ice, he will use his active stick and swing his stick out. He is very persistent with his active stick. Often you will see the attacker evading it and managing to get by, but he does his best to irritate and annoy attackers. Even if it doesn’t work, at least he has slowed down the attack and that could potentially lead to his defender trapping the same attacker. Hughes also does a good job of manipulating the attack with his stick blade movement and forces the attacker to play up the boards. What I love is that he will specifically target attackers who aren’t paying close attention to their surroundings and instead are surveying their team’s puck movement. He will go out of his way to sneak up on the attacker and blindside him when the attacker is receiving the puck off of a pass. That will often lead to the attacker making an ill-advised pass or the attacker bobbling possession.
Even though he does struggle at netting possession of the puck at open ice, he is significantly stronger at netting possession along the boards. Once he gets a hold of the puck, he will look to complete a behind the legs or behind the back pass to get the puck to his open teammate. If he runs out of space in the neutral zone, he will rely on his behind the legs passing and often it leads to successful breakouts.
In addition, when moving up the ice and encountering some traffic and he does not have a true passing option, he will look to make a bounce pass off the boards to himself in the neutral zone to get around the rush.
Hughes constantly deploys good edge work. When keeping pace with an attacker and skating parallel to the attacker, he will utilize his inside/outside edges to ensure that he stays aligned.
When Hughes is pivoting, he manages to complete quality pivots, but needs to work on the hop off of the pivot to ensure that he gets quality speed to remain on the hunt for the puck. There are some instances in which he loses his balance off of a pivot. He forgets to carry the other leg when pivoting and that means that his skates are too far apart and that leads to Hughes falling.
Hughes has good straight line speed. When right about to start skating forward, he implements a quality forward leaning hop with his knees extending out in full flex. Similar to a runner’s stance. He will deploy two shortened skate extensions at first and then begin to lengthen them. He nets solid length with his skate extensions and has great ankle flexion. His skate extensions power him to the net and allow him to keep pace on 2-on-1s.
If he can work on shot and passing mechanics, his production will go up and we could be looking at a solid two-way centerman that you could place on your second line.
January 19, 2021
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Josh Tessler. If you would like to follow Josh on Twitter, his handle is @JoshTessler_.
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