Anaheim Ducks 2021 Draft Profile: Luke Hughes Lives up to his Pedigree

Jack Hughes #6 (L) and brother Quinn Hughes of the Vancouver Canucks take part in a Top Prospects Clinic (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images)
Jack Hughes #6 (L) and brother Quinn Hughes of the Vancouver Canucks take part in a Top Prospects Clinic (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images) /

At the time of writing this, there are only 92 days left until the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the late start of the 2020-21 NHL season, the first round of this year’s draft will be held on July 23rd. The Anaheim Ducks will be drafting in the Top 5, currently having the best odds to draft 4th overall (44.5%).

With their current standing in the league, it is guaranteed the Ducks will draft another key piece to add to their pipeline, setting their rebuild in motion. Names like Owen Power, Brandt Clarke, and Matthew Beniers have been thrown around as “big names” in this year’s draft. Nevertheless, there is not a consensus first overall pick yet.

As of right now, it’s wide open. The race is sure to pick up the closer we get to the draft, as it usually does, but if not even the experts can agree, it will just come down to the preference and needs of each team drafting in the Top 5.

Luke Hughes Might Pique the Anaheim Ducks Interest

A name that might pique some interest for the Anaheim Ducks, however, is 17-year-old Luke Hughes. Ranked anywhere from 1st-10th overall, Hughes comes from a very high pedigree. His oldest brother, Quinn Hughes, was drafted 7th overall by the Vancouver Canucks in 2018. His other brother, Jack Hughes, was drafted 1st overall by the New Jersey Devils in 2019.

His father is also well respected in the hockey community, having served as the Director of Player Development for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He spent some time as an assistant coach in both the Leaf’s and Boston Bruins’ organizations as well. His mother even skated for Team USA in the 1992 World Women’s Hockey Championship.

Luke was born to play hockey, and following in the footsteps of his two older brothers, he has the potential to be another Top 10 draft pick. Where he is selected remains to be seen, but NHL teams should be keeping a close eye on the young star to be.

Luke Hughes Draft Profile

"Born: September 9, 2003 (17 yo) Canton, MINation: USADraft Year Team: U.S. National U18 TeamPosition: DShoots: LHeight: 6’2″/188 cmWeight: 176 lbs/80 kg"

Set to Miss Premier Scouting Events in Wake of Injury

Hughes (Luke) has been closely compared to his older brother, Quinn. While it may not be fair to compare Luke to his older brother, it’s almost impossible not to. They play almost an identical style of hockey and their careers have followed very similar paths. Little brothers tend to idolize their older brothers, so it is no surprise that the youngest of the Hughes’ brother has modeled his game after Quinn’s.

Despite being one of the youngest prospects of the draft, making the cutoff by only six days, Hughes has been acclaimed by some as one of the best and most improved defensive prospects of the 2021 NHL Draft. However, before we delve into the promising career of this future superstar, there are a few big concerns that need to be addressed.

The biggest concern is an injury he recently sustained that will see him miss the rest of the 2020-21 season. According to J.D. Burke, Hughes has several torn ligaments in his foot. While this injury won’t affect his future, we’ve seen General Managers steer clear of injured prospects who were ranked as high draft picks. In most recent memory, we saw Winnipeg Jets prospect, Peyton Krebs fall to 17th overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft after succumbing to an Achilles injury.

His injury also means that he will miss the All-American Prospects Game as well as the 2021 IIHF Under-18 World Championships. These two events are primed to be big scouting events prior to the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. However, Hughes’ performance with the U.S National U18 Team (USDP) this year should speak for itself.

Living up to his Pedigree

While Hughes’ injury might see his draft stock fall, the likelihood is very small. Should he fall, however, whichever team drafts him could walk away with the biggest steal of the draft. Much like his older brother, he has the potential to be a future franchise-caliber offensively-minded defenseman.

Going into the 2020-21 season, however, there were still questions surrounding Luke’s game, especially when it came to his decision-making and his ability to remain consistent on the defensive side of the puck. Nevertheless, he has taken great strides in improving those areas of his game, and the steps he’s taken in just one season have been impressive.

The most notable change to his game has been his awareness. He has improved his ability to anticipate plays on the ice. This gives him a better understanding of his surroundings and, in turn, has given him the ability to utilize his skills correctly and not get caught out of position. There are still times he tends to overcomplicate things, but that will improve with time.

Hughes’ bread and butter and his biggest strength lie in his skating ability. His skating is effortless and smooth, with clean strides, speedy transitions, and lightning acceleration coupled with his shifty edgework. He is incredibly fast and it is very difficult for the opposition to slow him down and contain him. This allows him to be a threat when he jumps into the rush and flawlessly navigate the offensive zone to set up scoring opportunities for himself or his teammates.

To go along with his quick feet, Hughes has great hands. This allows him to be successful in high-traffic areas. While he can move the play rather quickly, his soft hands allow him to distribute the puck effectively, delivering smooth, crisp, and accurate passes to his teammates.

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While Hughes is a very effective puck distributor, he is incredibly poised and in control when the puck is on his stick. One advantage he has over his two older brothers is his size. Standing at 6’2”, he tends to play a more aggressive style of hockey. This allows him to be very protective of the puck while dealing with the pressure of the opposition. It is very rare for him to be intimidated into making costly turnovers.

The 17-year-old defenseman is primarily a playmaker, but he doesn’t shy away from shooting the puck. While he does model his game very similarly to Quinn’s, he has shown that he has the potential to score more, and Quinn had an impressive 51 point rookie campaign.

Much like his brother, Hughes has also established himself as his team’s primary power-play quarterback and is often utilized on the penalty kill as well. Luke is praised for being an offensively minded defenseman, but the tools are all there for him to be a very well-rounded two-way defenseman if he and the team that drafts him remain committed to his development.

"“Hughes may not be as well-known for his defensive game but his impact is felt from the backend on a nightly basis. He is great at closing off his opponents and limits their angles as they enter the defensive zone. He may not be as physical as other defensemen in this draft but he is capable of handling his own in the corners and makes it hard for others to gain any space in front of the net. He plays with an active stick and is able to deflect passes and shots out of danger with ease.” –Mathieu Sheridan, the Hockey Writers"

Following in the footsteps of older brother Quinn, once again, he has committed to playing for the University of Michigan next year. Head coach Mel Pearson will have a big hand in helping Luke round out his game and become a threat at both ends of the ice.

Hughes’ skills speak for him. His confidence and poise are beyond his years. Playing in the NCAA will help further his development, especially defensively, and he will be a key piece for his future team’s blueline. In the next few years, the Hughes brothers could establish themselves as an institution in the NHL.

Next. Jamie Drysdale Faces Struggles in First NHL Season. dark

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