Red Wings Draft: Does Luke Hughes Fit Into the Yzerplan?

Octopus Thrower

Fans of the Vancouver Canucks often like to remind Detroit Red Wings fans that they passed up the opportunity to draft one of the best young defensemen in the league, Quinn Hughes. This year, the Red Wings might have a chance at Quinn’s brother, Luke – but is he a fit for the organization?

Offensive Defensemen

Luke Hughes likely possesses the strongest offensive skillset of any defender in the draft. With the U.S. Under-18 Hockey team, Hughes had six goals and a whopping 28 assists in 34 games played. That’s pretty impressive for a forward, let alone a defensemen.

Hughes posses an elite, top-end ability in his offensive transitional game (Partly why he nabbed so many assists). He uses his creativity, agility and speed to enter the offensive zone without a hitch. On the rare occasion that he doesn’t use his exceptional maneuverability to avoid a defender, he’ll make a smart pass to one his forwards on the edges to keep the offense alive.

Hughes often acted as the quarterback of the offense: securely entering the o-zone, keeping things calm on the blue line and moving forward to activate when needed. There is some concern about his ability to translate his brand of offense to a pro-league, but his offensive IQ and the smoothness in his game are promising. Offensively, the only glaring flaw is the occasional over-possession of the puck – something that can easily be ironed out by the right coach.

Not Elite Defensively

The major concern with Hughes is his defensive skillset. He often gets in trouble in the defensive zone for one-dimensional play. On offensive, if something doesn’t work for him, Hughes will reach into his bag of tricks and pull out something new to stun a defender. However, if a defensive tactic doesn’t work out, he can occasionally give up on the play. If a poke check doesn’t work on a forward entering the zone, instead of trying to get physical or change his strategy, he’ll skate away and reposition. Another defensive struggle is passes in his own d-zone. Hughes gets nervous with the puck relatively easily and will try to make a pass as quickly as he can. This usually results in a turnover, allowing the opposing offense to reset and reactivate.

Fit for the Red Wings?

Luke Hughes could very well end up being the best offensive defenseman in the draft – by a longshot. His smooth, high-skilled game shows talent beyond his years. Hughes presents a tempting option in the draft for a team looking for a defender that can effectively run an offense. On the surface, this seems like a fit for Detroit.

One of the struggles this year for the team was putting together competent offensive series; for all the success that the Red Wing’s defensemen had, there was still no defender able to control and activate offense consistently. That’s where Hughes potentially slots in (He also fills a need for a top-tier left shot defensemen).

The problem? Hughes might flounder in Jeff Blashill’s coaching system. Young players that occasionally lapse defensively often have trouble developing under Blashill – Evgeny Svechnikov and Dennis Cholowski are perfect examples.

Both are pretty skilled players offensively, and both have suffered from warming the bench Detroit or spending time stuck on the taxi squad/Grand Rapids because of their mistakes on defense. In both cases, this seems to have heavily damaged their development, as they are teetering on the edge of exiting the organization.

If Hughes comes into Detroit after developing at the University of Michigan and Grand Rapids without heavily improving his defensive game, Blashill could end destroying his confidence or messing with his development by keeping him in Grand Rapids/limiting time on ice.

Hughes is a player that could certainly be a home run. If he continues to better his defense as he’s done this year, he’ll end up as one of the top overall players from the 2021 NHL draft class. But Hughes might not fit with Detroit’s current coaching staff; it’d be disheartening to see such a fantastic player fizzle out after failing to fit in.

Hughes will be a top-ten talent, but he might not end up in Detroit, even if he falls to six.

Articles You May Like

Why Red Wings’ Quiet Offseason Was the Right Call Long Term
NHL Rumors: Oilers, Red Wings, Flyers
9 NHL Teams That Missed in Free Agency
Red Wings Should Still Pursue John Gibson Trade
Red Wings: 5 Potential Alternate Captains

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *