Jack Hughes is getting geared up for the NHL Draft

Hughes is in Buffalo for the NHL Scouting Combine

Paul Hamilton
May 31, 2019 - 8:00 pm

Photo: Paul Hamilton (@pham1717)

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - The last time I was with Jack Hughes, it was April at the Draft Lottery in Toronto. Since then, he’s played for Team USA in two international tournaments and then arrived in Buffalo for the combine. Hughes has finished his interviews and had his physical. He said talking to teams was a lot of the same, “You hear about this for a lot of years from friends and stuff, but once you’re there, it’s a little different.

“It’s a really busy week and you have to be on your A game all week and it’s a little crazy how you tell the same story 10 times, so you have to refocus for every meeting.”

Hughes will most likely go first or second at the draft, but he still had 10 team interviews this week. He said except for the Devils, Rangers and Blackhawks, the other teams asked him about other players and picked his brain about Team USA teammates.

Another center on that team with Hughes was Trevor Zegras. He had 26 goals and 52 assists for 78 points in 54 games with the Under-18 Team. Hughes said, “Z’s an unbelievable talent. He can move the puck and he prides himself with the way he moves it and he’s a really easy player to play with and you know the puck is going to be on your tape and you’re going to be able to score and I love playing with him because of how creative he is and how much fun he has playing hockey.”

Another Team USA player that will likely be drafted before the Sabres get to No. 7 is Alex Turcotte. He had 23 goals and 30 assists for 53 points in just 30 games. Hughes said, “It’s his motor and how skilled he plays and how hard he plays at the same time.

“I like to compare him to MacKinnon a little bit, I mean MacKinnon is obviously a top three player in the league, but the way Turks plays with his skill and hardness at the same time, it’s unbelievable.”

Jack’s brother Quinn was taken seventh overall by Vancouver last June. Jack said his brother has helped him a lot, “Quinn’s been awesome for me this year. He’s been really supportive with me helping me out a lot with the scenario’s that he went through last year and it was a lot of fun to see it firsthand last year as his brother.”

Quinn played with Jack Eichel on Team USA at the World Championship. Hughes said playing along side the talent on that team taught him a lot. “It was unreal for me on the ice and learned some things that I’ll get better at this summer. I think the biggest thing is being in the room with guys like Pat [Kane], learning how to be a pro on a daily basis and taking things from certain players, that was an invaluable experience for me.”

Kane has been the captain of Team USA for two straight seasons. Hughes couldn’t have been more impressed, “I probably watched all his goals in the last 10 years, so that’s a guy I love watch play. He’s probably my favorite player and to get to know him up close and be around him and see him play and practice with him, it’s just a lot of fun.

“I also thought I knew Patrick Kane the superstar and how good of a player he is, but I think I got to know Patrick Kane as a human and how he’s such a good human, treats everyone the same and he’s just an unbelievable person.”

Thanks to that tournament, some are thinking that Kappo Kakko could actually pass Hughes and go No. 1 to New Jersey. Kakko had six goals in 10 games for the gold medal winning Finnish team. Hughes said it’s his goal to go No. 1 overall and he hasn’t lost sight of that, “I think that would be unbelievable. I always dreamed of being No. 1, you don’t dream of being two, three or four, so I want to be the first overall pick.”

The players begin physical testing at 7:30 Saturday morning at Harborcenter.

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