Follow the entire 2019 NHL draft, pick-by-pick. Chris Peters, Greg Wyshynski and Emily Kaplan provide detailed breakdowns of each first-rounder’s skill set, as well as how he will fit with his new NHL team. And be sure to check out all of our draft-prep content to learn more about this talented draft class.
Team: USA U18 (NTDP)
Ranking: 1 | Nationality: USA
Age: 18 | Ht: 5-10 | Wt: 170 | Shot: L
Stats: 50 GP, 34 G, 78 A
Scouting report: Hughes has such great burst and an effortless glide in his skating, and he uses his edges to create separation. He sees the ice and processes play development at an elite level. Hughes is an expert at making plays in small areas, which is why his size is less of a bother. Although he definitely needs to continue adding muscle, Hughes is unafraid to go to the hard areas of the ice and protects himself well, thanks to his skating and anticipation skills. He takes care of his own end and uses those anticipation skills to cut down passing lanes, but his defense needs improvement. I have yet to watch a game in which he didn’t drive play, shift in and shift out. — Peters
Team fit: Hughes gives the Devils two young centers around whom to build. He joins 20-year-old Nico Hischier, taken first overall in 2017, to form a formidable one-two punch. His arrival gives the franchise some clear direction, which will be vital if the Devils are to re-sign 2018 Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall before next summer’s unrestricted free agency. — Wyshynski
Where Hughes is most likely to play in 2019-20: NHL (Devils)