NHL Tonight: Scouting Combine Special

I know it’s been a long time since my last post, but now with the playoffs winding down and the Draft upcoming, we should be back on track.

Tonight the NHL Network presented a special edition of NHL Tonight. It was called the Scouting Combine Special and featured interviews with and analysis of some of the prospects who took part in the NHL Scouting Combine at Harborcenter in Buffalo.

The first person interviewed was the player expected to go first overall in the Draft, to the Devils, Jack Hughes.

NHL Network host Alex Tanguay – who did the interview – opened by asking how he was feeling now that the moment is finally coming (being picked in the Draft). He asked him who has the best hockey IQ in his family, his dad, mom or brothers (all of whom played or play hockey). He said his brother Quinn of the Vancouver Canucks sees the ice and processes the game better that he can.

He was asked if he liked to score a goal or assist on one better. He said that while scoring is great, he loves setting players up. He said that having Cole Caufield on his line to finish plays is like “getting a free point.”

Tanguay asked him who he compares his game to the most. Hughes said that he did not want to sound cocky, but he feels his ceiling is a player like Mat Barzal of the Islanders or the Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane.

When asked about his competitiveness, Hughes said that “he has not met many kids more competitive than (him).” He was then asked the million dollar question about whether or not he thinks he is strong enough or big enough to make an impact in the NHL. He said that there is a difference between “gym strong” and “hockey strong.” Hughes feels that he might not be the kind of guy who can “throw around a lot of weight in the gym” but does have the strength to stay on his skates and be strong in the corners and along the boards and in traffic. He said he uses his hockey IQ and brain to play the game in a strong way.

He then talked about being a 17 and 18-year-old playing against men at the World Championship and how it was a learning experience for him.

He broke down a play that Tanguay showed him that he made at the at the 2019 World Junior Championship last December. It showed his thought process and just how quickly he thinks the game of hockey. He even mentioned that it is hard to communicate on the ice because the game is moving so fast so players need to know where to be and what to do.

Tanguay finished up the interview asking if Hughes can play right away in the NHL. Jack said “I’m not oblivious to (the NHL) being the hardest league in the world (to play in).” He said that he wants to be “driving the bus, not a passenger” on the team that drafts him. He wants to win and be a part of the reason the team is winning.

Basically, he said that he wants to be a star in the NHL right away and is driven to be such. He said he wanted to “get out of the gates fast” and wants to be an impact player.

Tanguay did a good interview (as short as it was) with Hughes. The one thing I take way from the interview is that Hughes already has an idea of the culture that Ray Shero and John Hynes are trying to create. His verbiage about “not being a passenger and driving the bus” is exactly the type of player that the Devils are looking for.

We only got the interview from Hughes as far as top two picks go, but it was a really good interview nonetheless.

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