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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. – The Draft Analyst
Hughes can be an elite offensive and puck-moving defenceman at the next level. He should quarterback the power play and lead the rush. The defensive game is a question mark, and how much he can improve in the next couple of years will determine if he is a first pairing defenceman at even strength or more of a second pairing player. Hughes will likely head back to college for his sophomore season, as he is probably not going to be NHL ready this fall. – Last Word on Hockey
Hughes fits the shift to the smaller puck-moving defensemen that the NHL has been undergoing the last several years. Dynamic playmakers along the blue line are in and as the waves of smaller guys continue, you won’t be looking at 5’10” guys like the small star anomalies we currently do. Hughes is next in line to continue that tradition in a class loaded with undersized defenders with puck skills.
He was a stud at Michigan this past season and his WJCs was kind of interesting as he bounced around in the lineup a bit, including a brief stint getting moved to forward. Still, you can see what made him so special as he carries the puck with incredible poise and his excellent skating allows him to play at a very high pace. His speed and skills will translate very nicely to the NHL but the question, per usual, is whether or not he’ll develop enough strength to handle top-pairing minutes or if he’ll be more of a Tyson Barrie type.
He’ll be drafted long before the Avalanche are on the clock so it doesn’t matter. He would be a redundant prospect as a left-handed version of Cale Makar and with Sam Girard already in place, that’s a lot of smaller guys. No need for that.
#9 Hockey Prospect
#6 Future Considerations
#6 McKeen’s Hockey