Luke Hughes gains experience through an intense schedule

Plymouth, Michigan – Luke Hughes has such an intense schedule that prospect New Jersey Devils sometimes have trouble keeping it straight.

The 18-year-old defender played one game for the United States at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championships in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta, before the tournament was canceled on December 29 due to coronavirus concerns.

He finished his first season at the University of Michigan and went to the Frozen Four, then played 10 games for the United States at the 2022 IIHF World Championships in Helsinki and Tampere, Finland.

Next?

Back to the 2022 World Junior Championships, which has been rescheduled to Edmonton from August 9-20 and will start all over again. The NHL Network will broadcast each of the games the United States plays on television.

“Just getting my body ready this summer and trying to get ready for the season in Michigan — or, well, no, the juniors in the world right now and [to] Try to win a gold medal,” Hughes said with a laugh at the National Junior Evaluation Camp at USA Hockey Arena last week.

“…I really don’t want to focus too far or anything like that. I just go game by game and event by event, starting with the world’s juniors. I’m very happy with that.”

Hughes, No. 4 in the 2021 NHL Draft, has come a long way in a matter of months. Imagine where he will be at the end of his sophomore season in Michigan, when he reevaluates whether to sign with the Devils.

In the United States’ only World Junior Championships match for the first time, which they beat Slovakia 3-2 in the preliminary round on December 26, Hughes played 16:36, the fifth of the six defenders.

At Michigan, he had 39 points (17 goals, 22 assists) in 41 games, and is third in a team filled with NHL prospects. He was the only freshman to finish among the top 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, awarded to the best men’s hockey player in the NCAA Division I.

At the 2022 World Championships, he averaged 19:14 and had four points (one goal, three assists) in 10 matches playing for and against the men. Share with Seth Jones At least for a while, he faced strikers like David Krejci and David Pasternak. The United States lost to Finland 4-3 in the semifinals on May 28 and to the Czechs 8-4 in the bronze medal match on May 29.

“It was an unreal experience for me,” Hughes said. “Yeah, I mean, it’s very valuable. I learned a lot. It was good to get the medal, but that’s the goal for these next two tournaments.”

wait. These next two tournaments? Yes, after the 2022 World Junior Championships, Hughes is eligible to play at the 2023 World Juniors in Halifax, Nova Scotia and Moncton, New Brunswick, from December 26 to January 26. 5.

But again, he goes game after game, event after event.

Hughes said he’s probably gained eight to 10 pounds this season, which puts him at 6ft 2 and 189lbs.

He’s been skiing at home in suburban Detroit with NHL players including Detroit Red Wings Center Dylan Larkin The Winnipeg Jets forward Kyle Connor – And of course the demons center bro Jack Hughes The Vancouver Canucks Defenseman Queen Hughes.

“I want to get better at zone D,” Hughes said. “I want to work my hands, work on my shot, and get better at everything. Pin the details, and close. It’s not just one area or anything like that.”

Nate Lyman, who coaches Providence College and the U.S. Junior World Team, noticed a difference in Hughes from December to July in the first training of the Junior National Assessment Camp.

“I think his awareness of the ice has improved,” Lyman said. “We did a lot of things where he had to read through some of the classes. I thought he was good, he was poised, and he did it. He definitely grew in his game.”

Lyman said the United States would rely more on Hughes this time, and Hughes embraced that.

“I’m really excited to try to win a gold medal and be a hugely influential player on this team and have a big role, so I’m really excited about that,” Hughes said. “I think I had a really good time, a really good end of the year, especially with the world championship and going to [Frozen Four]. I think I’m ready for this, and I’m really excited.”

All of this would help in Hughes’ development.

Playing the second season in the NCAA helped elite defenders like Zach FerenskyNo. 8 pick 2015 NHL Draft, who played in Michigan from 2014-16 before signing with the Columbus Blue Jackets; Cal Makar, No. 4 in 2017, who played for University of Massachusetts Amherst from 2017-19 before signing with the Colorado Avalanche; and Quinn Hughes, No. 7 in 2018, who played for Michigan from 2017-19 before signing with the Canucks.

“I think this has been a really good year [Quinn] To really develop him and prepare him for the NHL,” Hughes said, “That’s what I’m going to do. “

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