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The NHL has become a game that is far more about speed and skill than it was in year’s past. This change means opportunity for a 5’10” defenceman like Quinn Hughes. In the early 2000s, a player like Hughes would have been looked at as a mid-to-late round pick, with questions as to how his size could translate in the clutch and grab NHL. Today, Hughes is looking at being a potential first-round pick.
In his freshman season at the University of Michigan, Hughes has helped his team to reach the Frozen Four, where they will face Notre Dame in the national semi-final later this week. Hughes has five goals and 29 points in 34 games this season. He also had three assists for Team USA in the World Juniors.
Quinn Hughes’ brother, Jack Hughes is the first line centre for the US NTDP and is expected to be a top pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, perhaps as early as first overall.
Quinn Hughes Scouting Report
Defence — shoots Left
Born October 14th, 1999 — Orlando, Florida
Height 5’10” — Weight 174 lbs [178 cm / 79 kg]
Hughes is an outstanding skater. He looks like he is floating above the ice. He has very good speed and acceleration in both directions. Hughes has a textbook stride, and the ability to change directions on a dime. He uses the outstanding speed to join the rush or to pinch in at the line. Hughes is rarely caught deep as he can still get back into position defensively thanks to that speed. His agility and footwork allow him to beat defenders one-on-one as well as to walk the line and make quick moves to open up passing and shooting lanes. Hughes has a low centre of gravity which helps his balance and makes him strong on the puck.
Hughes has excellent vision and playmaking ability, as well as the hockey sense to almost always make the right play. He seems to think the game and anticipate plays better than others out there on the ice. With his skating and stickhandling ability, Hughes is not afraid to skate the puck out of his zone or lead the rush. He can also make a long pass to start the transition game and start an odd-man rush. He has the passing ability and the hockey IQ to quarterback the play from the point. Hughes has the poise to make plays under pressure.
Hughes has a good arsenal of shots. His wrist shot is strong and accurate, and features a quick release. He uses it often when trailing the play on the rush, or when pressured by shot blockers. He also has a hard and accurate slap shot.
Hughes defensive game is based on his anticipation and ability to quickly transition the puck out of his own zone. The size is a liability as Hughes can be outmuscled in his own end. He needs to be quick on the puck on dump-ins, as well as using a good stick check to steal pucks from attackers. Hughes will continue to need work in his own end, perfecting his positioning, and reading the play in order to maximize his potential. He could also add some muscle to his frame.
Projection and Comparison
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. His game is reminiscent of Ryan Ellis of the Nashville Predators.
The following is a compilation of some of the many highlight packages of Hughes that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Embed from Getty Images
ANN ARBOR, MI – MARCH 03: Michigan Wolverines defenseman Quinn Hughes (43) skates behind the net with the puck during the Michigan Wolverines 6-5 win over the Wisconsin Badgers in the BIG10 Hockey Tournament on March 3, 2018, at Red Berenson Rink at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)