Luke Hughes gaining experience through intense schedule

PLYMOUTH, Mich. — Luke Hughes has such an intense schedule, the New Jersey Devils prospect typically has a tough time holding it straight.

The 18-year-old defenseman performed one sport for the United States on the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta, earlier than the event was canceled Dec. 29 on account of considerations surrounding the coronavirus.

He completed his freshman season on the University of Michigan and went to the Frozen Four, then performed 10 video games for the United States on the 2022 IIHF World Championship in Helsinki and Tampere, Finland.

Next up?

Back to the 2022 World Juniors, which have been rescheduled for Edmonton from Aug. 9-20 and can begin contemporary. NHL Network will televise every of the video games performed by the United States.

“Just gearing up my physique this summer season and making an attempt to prepare for the season at Michigan — or, properly, no, for world juniors now and [to] attempt to win a gold medal,” Hughes mentioned with fun on the National Junior Evaluation Camp on the USA Hockey Arena final week.

“… I do not actually need to focus too far-off or something like that. I simply go sport by sport and occasion by occasion, beginning with world juniors. I’m tremendous blissful about that.”

Hughes, the no. 4 choose within the 2021 NHL Draft, has come a good distance in a matter of months. Imagine the place he’ll be on the finish of his sophomore season at Michigan, when he’ll reevaluate whether or not to signal with the Devils.

In the United States’ lone sport at world juniors the primary time, at 3-2 win towards Slovakia within the preliminary spherical Dec. 26, Hughes performed 16:36, fifth among the many six defensemen.

At Michigan, he had 39 factors (17 targets, 22 assists) in 41 video games, third on a crew loaded with NHL prospects. He was the one freshman to complete among the many Top 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, given to one of the best participant in NCAA Division I males’s hockey.

At the 2022 World Championship, he averaged 19:14 and had 4 factors (one aim, three assists) in 10 video games performed with and towards males. He partnered with Seth Jones for at the very least a bit, and he confronted forwards like David Krejci and David Pastrnak. The United States misplaced to Finland, 4-3 within the semifinals on May 28, and to the Czech Republic, 8-4 within the bronze medal sport on May 29.

“It was an unreal experience for me,” Hughes mentioned. “Yeah, I imply, it is tremendous useful. I discovered quite a bit. It would have been good to medal, however that is the aim in these subsequent two tournaments.”

Wait. These subsequent two tournaments? Yes, after the 2022 World Juniors, Hughes is eligible to play within the 2023 World Juniors in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Moncton, New Brunswick, from Dec. 26-Jan. 5.

But once more, he is going sport by sport, occasion by occasion.

Hughes mentioned he has gained most likely eight to 10 kilos this offseason, placing him at 6-foot-2, 189 kilos.

He has been skating at dwelling in suburban Detroit with NHL gamers together with Detroit Red Wings heart Dylan Larkin and Winnipeg Jets ahead Kyle Connor — and, in fact, his brothers, Devils heart Jack Hughes and Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes.

“I need to get higher within the ‘D’ zone,” Hughes mentioned. “I need to work my fingers, work on my shot, get higher at the whole lot. Stick element, closing. It’s not only one space or something like that.”

Nate Leaman, who coaches Providence College and the United States world junior crew, seen a distinction in Hughes from December to July on the first observe of the National Junior Evaluation Camp.

“I feel his consciousness on the ice improved,” Leaman mentioned. “We did a whole lot of stuff the place he needed to learn through some layers. I assumed he was good, and he was poised, and he did that. He’s undoubtedly grown in his sport.”

Leaman mentioned the United States would rely extra on Hughes this time, and Hughes embraced that.

“I’m actually excited to attempt to win a gold medal and be a huge impact participant on this crew and have a giant function, so I’m actually enthusiastic about that,” Hughes mentioned. “I feel I’ve had a very good offseason, actually good finish of the 12 months, particularly with world championships and going to the [Frozen Four]. I feel I’m prepared for this, and I’m actually excited.”

All of this could assist Hughes’ growth.

Playing a second season within the NCAA helped elite defensemen like Zach Werenski, the No. 8 choose of the 2015 NHL Draft, who performed at Michigan from 2014-16 earlier than signing with the Columbus Blue Jackets; Cale Makar, the No. 4 choose in 2017, who performed on the University of Massachusetts Amherst from 2017-19 earlier than signing with the Colorado Avalanche; and Quinn Hughes, the No. 7 choose in 2018, who performed at Michigan from 2017-19 earlier than signing with the Canucks.

“I feel that was a very good 12 months for [Quinn] for growing and actually getting ready him for the NHL,” Hughes mentioned, “so that is what I’m going to do.”


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