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The Draft Analyst:

Turbo-charged center with blinding speed and fantastic vision who has dominated his peers at every level. Hughes’ skill is noticeable from the second he hits the ice, but his ability to make every single one of decisions seem calculated is what separates him from a very talented group of draft-eligible forwards. His sixth sense allows him to sniff out trouble before it’s within striking distance while simultaneously identifying weaknesses within the opponent’s scheme to stop him. It’s cliche to say he makes everyone around him better, but Hughes does so in more ways that one.

For starters, Hughes is an excellent playmaker with hawk-like vision who can perfectly time passes to linemates over long distances, especially off the rush. He uses a variety of head fakes, stutter steps and quick pivots to lure defenders away from a passing lane, and he can no-look pass better than any junior-aged player since Connor McDavid. But Hughes isn’t just a pass-first center, as he uses his blazing speed, agility and elite stickhandling to make inside moves towards the goal with regularity. Once he’s there, he’ll either wire a blistering wrister or use his ridiculously soft hands to roof shots from in close on either his forehand or backhand. These traits not only expand the ice for his teammates, but also seem to wear down defenders as they work feverishly towards trying to contain him.

AJ’s Thoughts

Hughes is a superstar in the making. He’s going to push the boundaries of the “smaller/faster” swing in the NHL. He’s an incredibly gifted skater and plays the game at a very high level but he’s both short and sleight, making it a real question how he physically handles the rigors of the NHL. We’ve seen him take some big hits and keep on ticking but how he does that over the course of the regular season and postseason will determine how high this rocket will fly.

Hughes is an electric talent who could be Patrick Kane or end up more like Clayton Keller. Either way, he’s going to be a quality NHL player if he’s able to physically hold up. His skill set is perfectly suited for today’s game.

Highlights

Avalanche Fit

In their dreams at this point. Had Colorado landed the first pick, it would have been a very interesting conversation whether or not they preferred Hughes or Kakko. Now, we’ll never know. Enjoy New Jersey or New York, Jack!

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A.J. Haefele, was born in Aurora, Colorado, raised in Katy, Texas and is the Avalanche Editor and Editor-In-Chief of BSN Denver. Education: A.J. studied at Stephen F. Austin State University before moving back to Colorado in 2009. Career:  Before joining BSN Denver, A.J. had been writing for and briefly managed the popular Avalanche blog, Mile High Hockey. A.J. began contributing in 2010 with detailed practice reports, training camp coverage, and in-depth looks at Colorado’s divisional foes. He would expand his horizons with free agency analysis, draft coverage, and more day-to-day looks at the team before taking over the blog as Co-Managing Editor. It was a short-lived tenure atop before BSN Denver came calling. Most memorable sports moment: Ray Bourque lifting the Stanley Cup in 2001. John Elway winning his first Super Bowl is a very close second but Bourque winning the Cup and finishing “Mission 16W” is one of the greatest stories in all of sports. The finest sports book I’ve ever read: Big fan of “Moneyball”. The implications on the sport and the inside look at how an organization changed its attitude to exploit a market inefficiency was fascinating. One sports movie that I can’t live without: There aren’t really any I dislike. Major League and Cool Runnings were my favorites growing up but Miracle and Goon have been my favorites as an adult. Also can’t live without the Rocky and now Creed movies. Most memorable experience as a reporter: Covering the 2017 NHL Draft was a dream come true for me. I’d always wanted to attend a draft and I got to do it while covering the team selecting fourth overall. Interviewing Cale Makar after he was selected is something I’ll never forget. The sport that started it all: Baseball! My dad was an enormous baseball fan and when the Rockies came into existence, it was an instant bond for the two of us and created sports fanaticism that has defined most of my life.

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