With the 2018 NHL Entry Draft in the rearview mirror, it is time to look ahead to the 2019 Draft and its top prospect. It’s never too early, right?
There was not a lot of intrigue in the 2018 NHL draft. Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin was the clear prize for the lottery-winning team for the entire season. The 2019 draft will have a little more intrigue as centers take center stage at the top of the draft, for now.
The brightest star at the top of the list, for now, is center Jack Hughes, who is playing for the USNDTP this upcoming season.
The American will continue a run of elite centers developing out of the USNTDP. Recent top picks Auston Matthews and Jack Eichel both spent time developing their game in the program. There is no doubt Hughes will be compared to these two players in his draft year.
If the name Jack Hughes sounds familiar, that’s because his brother, Quinn Hughes, was just selected in the first round by the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks could see themselves in the running for a chance for the younger Hughes brother, as well.
What makes Hughes the top-ranked prospect of next year’s draft is that he can do it all offensively. He split last season with the US national team U17 and U18 squads and dominated. Combining both teams he had 116 points in just 60 games.
Add a great showing at the U17 World Hockey Championship and the U18 World Junior Championship, and you get an elite center in the 2019 draft class. He is already tied for ninth in program assists, with 76 — only 12 behind players like Patrick Kane and Auston Matthews. And is second for most points in a single season, trailing Matthews by one.
Jack Hughes is still just 17 years old, his game has room to grow and may even have another level. So if your team is not looking too good next season, don’t hit the panic button. Jack Hughes could be coming your way to save the day.
Except for you, Ottawa — you traded away that pick, so good luck.