Quinn Hughes learned to skate when he was two. Every member of his family played hockey. His father, Jim, spent six years with the Toronto Maple Leafs as the Director of Player Development from 2009-2015. Quinn has the kind of hockey brain that you don’t see every day. A year ago, I was very impressed with him but I wanted to see if I’d feel the same way this year. So far, he hasn’t done a single thing to make me back off the statement that he’s a generational talent.
His hockey I.Q. is off the charts. The minute this defenseman enters the offensive zone he knows exactly what he’s going to do with the puck. He’ll make plays on his knees. Yes, he’s 5’9, 168 pounds, but he can not only take the punishment but he can dish some out as well.
One reason Hughes (pictured above) is consistently good is he respects his competition. He always says they are good and he just worries about what he’s going to do. That sounds simple but it’s a very effective mindset.
“Obviously in a game like this (All American Prospects Game) there are no systems so you just have to go out and play your game and move the puck,” he said. “You’re playing with a bunch of good players. I think the skill part will take care of itself.”
Hughes is yet another player coming out of the Southeast. Florida is officially a hockey hotbed now producing players like Shayne Gostisbehere (Flyers), Jakob Chychrun (Coyotes), and Blake Geoffrion (now retired, career shortened due to injury) in recent memory.
Playing for the NTDP means he’s thought of as an elite talent. As a top player on that squad (he had 10 goals and 53 points in 65 games last season) you’re used to being scouted.
“There’s always been a lot of scouts around being at a place like “the program” (NTDP). There are 20 kids that can be drafted in 2018. I’m kind of used to it by now. It’s definitely on my mind but it doesn’t really have an impact on me.”
Someday I’ll be able to write size doesn’t matter. But for now, nobody is worried about the fact he may play at the NHL as a shorter blueliner.
“Definitely as a young kid you model yourself after players and you have players you like to watch. For me, it’s Duncan Keith or Kris Letang. I kind of like to think they play similar games to me,” said Quinn. “It’s cool that the game has been transitioning to a smaller skill type of game.”
This prospect has a big shot and he knows when to use it.
“Whenever there’s a screen or I have a shot lane. But mostly on the power play,” Quinn stated.
Some guys can move the puck up the ice and make plays on their own. Others like to use the outlet pass to get things moving.
“I think I can do both. It just depends on what the system of the other team is like. If I have room to skate, then I’ll skate,” he revealed. “If there’s a guy in front of me maybe I’ll pitch it to a guy on the sidewall and get it back.”
Hughes will play one more season with the NTDP and then he’ll play for Michigan University. He’s been training hard for the draft and the upcoming season.
“I think got better at everything. I think I got stronger,” he said confidently.
Quinn is a lock to be a top-10 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.
photo by Sportsology