Could Luke Hughes :
NHL history has never been short of star siblings who have made a name for themselves in the league. The seeds for the next big brotherly crew have already been planted in recent years, with the Hughes family throwing two promising stars into the mix.
First, Quinn, drafted seventh overall by Vancouver in 2018, who played a handful of games in 2018-19 before launching a dominant rookie season in 2019-20, amassing 53 points from the Canucks’ blue line. The campaign also coincided with his younger brother Jack’s first round, the latter making his debut for the New Jersey Devils after being tabled with the first overall pick in the 2019 Draft.
Now the third of the line is set to chart the final stretch of his big-league run, as defenseman Luke Hughes heads to draft day and is expected to finish in the top 10, as are his two brothers l ‘did.
A quick-footed, massive-bodied defender with star potential and huge expectations, here’s everything you need to know about the youngest of the Hughes clan:
Team: United States PNDT
Shooting : Left
Hometown: Canton, Michigan
Age: 17 (September 9 2003)
Height: 6 feet 2 inches
Weight: 176 pounds
A pair of Devils?
The hockey world’s expectations of Luke Hughes could weigh unfairly on the young defenseman given the pedigree and success of his league brethren. But while the youngest of the three will likely have to navigate being compared to them early in his career – especially Quinn, given they are in the same position – having a family that is deeply rooted in the game has also been a huge resource. for Luc.
Especially in the midst of one of the strangest times in professional hockey history, which caused quite a bit of disruption during his draft year.
“They taught me at the start of the year that, you know, you have to be ready for anything,” Luke said speaking to the media in early July, explaining how his brothers had helped him through a chaotic season. .
“You have to keep the spirit level and you can’t go too high or too low all year long. And I think that really applies to me this year, because with all the implications of COVID and being arrested and quarantined multiple times throughout the year, I think, you know, you must keep a cool head. ”
Ultimately, Luke could be in line to receive a lot more advice from his brother, with Jack’s Devils in line to take fourth place in the 2021 draft, the high end of where Luke planned to go. potentially hear his name called. And Jack didn’t hesitate to make his feelings known about the possibility.
“It shouldn’t be necessary to convince a lot if he’s there. I would like to take him, and I have no hesitation in saying so, ”Jack recently told NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman. “But at the end of the day, Luke will find his way. He’s a great player and I would love to have him in New Jersey, but if that doesn’t work out I know he will be successful wherever he goes. ”
For his part, Luke said he would just be grateful to get a chance at the NHL level.
“It would be amazing to go to the Devils,” he said. “I mean, my brother clearly wants me to be there and it would be super cool to play with them. You know, I would love that. But, at the same time, there are 32 great teams and I would be happy to go. in any of these teams.
It’s a family thing
Whether or not Luke gets the chance to play alongside Jack in New Jersey, there is no doubt that he will forever be compared to his brother Quinn – not only a fellow defender, but one of the most dynamic defenders. and the most promising. talents in the game.
The fact that the two men are both on the blue line is more than a coincidence, however.
“My brother Quinn moved on at about the same age – we were both crosses and then I think our Bantam year, when we were 13, we switched to D,” Luke said. “So I kind of saw him do it, and we were really similar players back then. That’s when I changed.
Those who saw the two young rearguards around this time will remember the similarities well. Former NHL player Patrik Stefan coached Luke for two seasons with the Detroit-based minor midget AAA team, Little Caesars Hockey Club, and also saw a lot of Quinn while he was nearby in Michigan. “They’re a little different, but in the way they excel it’s very similar,” Stefan told Sportsnet’s Ryan Dixon of the two brothers in 2019. “The way they skate the puck, it’s almost impossible to hit [them.]”
Stefan’s son James, who played on the same team with the team’s scoring leader Luke, also saw the similarities.
“His stride is the same as Quinn’s,” James told Dixon. “It’s so weird, but it takes so much speed. It’s crazy. You see him on the goal line [and] he’ll be on the next goal line in no time. The creative part of his game is off the charts. He makes moves that few players can do.
For what it’s worth, Quinn sees Luke as a more suitable comparable than him – a young Dallas Star who seems ready for Norris’ future campaigns.
“I think Luke has so much raw potential, his skating is so good and his hands … he’s big and skates like Miro Heiskanen, but he has my offensive mindset,” Quinn said of Luke recently. , via Mike Morreale of NHL.com. “I think when he’s 20 or 21 he’s going to be an absolute beast.”
The young Hughes defender is also expected to continue to follow in Quinn’s footsteps next season. After seeing Hughes’ older brother move from the US NTDP to the University of Michigan to the NHL, Luke will also follow his own run in the US NTDP with a move to Wolverines next year.
“I’m super excited for my time there,” Luke said of the upcoming transition to college hockey. “I think, you know, watching my brother Quinn go through that and how much he’s grown – as a player, but more as a person, just to meet some really smart people there, longtime friends – I’m really looking forward.
And of course, if Luke does end up falling to the bottom of the top 10 in the 2021 NHL Draft and miss a chance to join Jack in New Jersey, he just might find himself standing alongside his other brother. The Quinn Canucks are expected to be drafted ninth overall.
The big little brother
While his jersey has the same name on the back, and while there may be similarities in the way Luke and his brothers move on the ice, there is no doubt that the youngest of the trio is a different animal. of his siblings.
The main reason is obvious: its size. While Jack and Quinn are both under six feet (five foot 11 for the first, five foot 10 for the second), Luke is already six foot two and 176 pounds at just 17 years old.
“He’s got it all,” Jack told The Athletic’s Corey Masisak last year. “A lot of people have said things about me and Quinn and our height, and we had to get over that. For Luke, he has all the same abilities as us, but he’s also a big kid.
“You are dealing with a completely different player,” added Jack in a later interview with Morreale. “He’s got the skating, he’s got the intelligence Quinn has, but this kid is tall… he’s not the normal Hughes.” It will be a different defender than Vancouver with Quinn. It’s going to be huge to eliminate guys. , being offensive. ”
Those same offensive abilities appear to have shone so far for Luke, who amassed 15 points in 18 games for the US NTDP last season, and 34 points in 38 games for the National Under-18 Team. And yet, while some point out his size and others his ability to play, his longtime coach considers a different aspect of his skills to be the most important. For performance coach Dan Ninkovich – who has coached all three Hughes brothers for years, as well as likely No.1 pick Owen Powers – it’s Luke’s skating ability and transition play that really sets him apart. “Luke’s strong point is his great lateral mobility,” he recently told Sportsnet. “He puts pressure on his opponents with his skating, on both sides of the ice.
As for how he views his own skills, the young NHL prospect says it’s his versatility that he’s most proud of.
“I can play in any situation,” said Luke. “I can play the power play, I can play the PK, you know, I can defend the cycle, defend the race, defend the net. I’m really ready with the puck in my transition play. And then, you know I think a lot of my game is my out and in, my out of zone D, going into the attacking zone, and then in the attacking zone I think I’m pretty deceiving with the puck and I’m trying to shake things up in this.
This ability to shake things up brought a lot more intrigue to the younger brother Hughes than his last name. And while he seems likely to slip into the middle of the top 10 like Quinn did, there’s a chance he could have followed in Jack’s footsteps on draft day had his season not been so significantly. disrupted by the pandemic.
“For me, the trail is there and the benefits are almost limitless,” NHL Central Scouting Senior Director David Gregory said of Luke, via Morreale. “When you put together all of his size, skills and IQ, there is a possibility that he is the best of the Hughes brothers. But he could also be the best in this draft. He has that kind of ability and more.
“I think he’s a player who would have really made some people question (about who should be draft # 1) if he had been able to finish the year.”