Over the next several months, Philly Sports Network will be providing you with all the content you need regarding this June’s NHL Entry Draft. You can expect interviews with prospects all across the draft board, scouting reports, and even some mock drafts. Enjoy!
Imagine life back when you were 17-years-old. Most likely you were in your senior year of high school contemplating what the next stage of your life would entail. Maybe you were heading to college with the hopes of one day entering a lucrative career. Maybe you were heading right into the workforce out of high school. Whatever your future plan was, it likely did not include being drafted first-overall into the National Hockey League. For Jack Hughes, however, this is a reality.
Though he may not fall into the same category as Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews, Hughes is the sure-fire first-overall selection in this year’s entry draft and has been viewed as such for close to two years. The younger brother of Vancouver Canucks prospect, Quinn Hughes, has all the tools necessary to be an elite center at the NHL level for many years.
Hughes is a highly-skilled player comes equipped with just as much intelligence and hockey smarts as he does talent. According to Hughes, his biggest strength lies somewhere else. “My skills and skating are great but I think my biggest strength is competitiveness and my inner drive.” Being only 17, Hughes understands that settling with his current skill-set would be a foolish move. When describing areas of improvements, Hughes explains, “Keep working on my whole game, especially my scoring and my face-offs.” His response is perfect. It shows awareness of being far from his peak. Hughes is already expected to accomplish great things. Continuing to work on his whole game will only brighten those horizons more. In terms of his scoring, Hughes primarily finds success setting up his teammates for goals. However, the ability to put the puck in the back of the is certainly there. There is no doubt that Hughes will pot his fair-share of goals throughout his career.
As hockey fans, we tend to follow the misconception that all players are just born with the goal of one day reaching the NHL. Typically, that is not the case. Most of the time, they are just kids enjoying the game of hockey with no real eye on the future. Hughes explains that as a kid, playing hockey was all about having fun. The NHL dream did not come until later.
“There was never really an ultimate goal. We kind of just wanted to just have fun. Then as our passion grew, we began to chase our dreams which was playing in the NHL so as I’ve gotten older I’ve obviously became obsessed with wanting to play in the NHL but as a young kid all I wanted to do was have fun.”
Now, playing the NHL is a certainty. As the expected first pick, Hughes is likely to jump right onto the big stage next season. Yes, he obviously deserves the lion’s share of credit for his present and future accolades. Still, Hughes understands that there are others out there that helped him along the way. According to Hughes, his biggest supporters have always been his family. “There are so many people that have helped me where I am today but obviously my family has helped me the most and have made me the player and man I am today.”
As I mentioned earlier, being drafted into any professional sports league is not
“Feels really exciting. To know that one of my life long dreams is going to come true soon. But the goal isn’t to get drafted, it’s to play in the NHL. It should be a great weekend with my family and it should be fun for myself and all the family coming to the draft to support me. It will be something I’ll never forget.”
The 2019 NHL Entry Draft is still over three months away. Still, for some franchises, it is the next exciting event on the calendar. They know that although this season has not gone their way, the chance of drafting an elite-caliber prospect, such as Jack Hughes, exists. No matter where the young center winds up, he is sure to be a household name in the hockey world for many years.
Photo by Rena Laverty/USA Hockey
John Gove is a full-time elementary educator with a passion for sports media. He has covered various aspects of hockey and basketball for various outlets over the past five years. Currently, he serves as a contributor and editor for Philly Sports Network focussing on prospects within the Philadelphia Flyers farm system and Villanova Men’s Basketball. John also serves as a co-host of Pod Street Bullies, PSN’s flagship Flyers podcast. Follow him on Twitter at @PodStreetGove.