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Could Another Hughes Go First in the Draft?
Luke Hughes is primed to be picked at or near the top of the draft. Gerard Gallant back behind the bench. Jonathan Drouin out indefinitely. Gauging the North.
If you believe what you read in the traditional hockey media -- of which we are not -- the guaranteed first choice in the upcoming Entry Draft is a big lug from Michigan named Owen Power.
Maybe yes, maybe no because forecasts change by the month. And the one I most trust is authored by Mike Morrealle of NHL.com. I favor Double M because he's been at this gig for years and simply put; he gets it!
But enough of a plug for Mike. What I'm getting at is this; with all the fuss and fanfare being generated over Mister Power-ful, a chap who's a little bit smaller is getting far too little attention.
That would be Luke Hughes.
And if the name sounds vaguely familiar, it should. After all the two other Hughes brothers, Quinn and Jack, currently are making a good buck playing in the National Hockey League.
What matters about the Luke version of Hughes is how rapidly he's moved on the Scouts' Esteem Meter.
And by "scouts," I also include writers such as Morreale who keep an Argus eye on talent. In his most recent review, Mike moved Luke Hughes all the way up to second place; right behind the powerful Power.
My first introduction to the youngest Hughes came by way of The Hockey News 2021 Annual. For that I thank Ken Campbell's "The Last Word" column which was all Luke.
At the time, Campbell wrote that the 2020-21 season, "is Luke's time to go under the draft microscope that Quinn navigated in 2018 and Jack a year later."
Meanwhile Quinn did a bit of p.r. for the kid bro: "He's going to be a real good player; probably better than I was at his age."
Luke is bigger than his brothers but far from the biggest defenseman in the upcoming Draft. But, who cares? He's big enough (6-2, 176) and, as Morreale's runner-up rating emphasizes, he's got the goods.
He also has a pair of siblings who will mentor him through all the Draft sidebars that often derail other aspirants.
Luke: "My brothers both did a really good job controlling their emotions and being themselves during their Draft year. Now, for me, it's exciting. At the end of the day I'm my own player.
"But I watched my brothers go through it, and I thought they were great. I'm just trying to play every game to the best of my abilities."
Ken Campbell makes a good point about Luke's chances; especially now that NHL.com has him pegged for the Number Two spot.
"If he does that," Campbell concluded, "the Hughes would become the first brothers ever to have three top-10 NHL picks. Not even the Sutters or the Staals did that!"
Stan’s Java Jive
HEADLINE: 'PHENOMENAL' GOOD WORD FOR SENATORS
THE JIVE: There are plenty of ways to describe today's -- not last month's -- Ottawa Senators."Spoilers," is a good one, as depicted last night when they put another torpedo (6-3) into Vancouver's hoped-to-be-playoff-bound-ship.
"Phenomenal" would be appropriate in terms of the Sens improvement over the past few weeks. Were this a traditional 82-game schedule, the boys from Canada's capital might well have come off as a playoff team. "Phenomenal," by the way coach D.J. Smith employed to describe his ultra-gifted defenseman, Thomas Chabot. As my Ottawa Sun pal, Bruce Garrioch once wrote, "Chabot is the straw that stirs the drink."
Last night Chabot stirred a goal and assist out of his game and inspired coach Smith to opine, "Thomas had the puck on his stick all game. Amazing how many plays he makes. He's phenomenal." Ditto for fast-rising left wing Brady Tkachuk who also chipped in a G and an A.
HEADLINE: WHO'LL BE TORONTO'S PLAYOFF GOALIE?
THE JIVE: Time soon will be running out for the Leafs general staffers -- Kyle Dubas-Shelly Keefe -- to decide who'll be generalissimo of the club's crease. In other years it automatically would be Freddy Andersen but his condition remains somewhat of a mystery. Meanwhile, Jack Campbell -- after what could pass for a slump -- is back in the saddle again. He compiled 31 saves in the 4-1 over the hard-to-figure Habs last night. (This much, I'd bet on; were a secret ballot be taken of all players in the Toronto room, they'd unanimously vote for Soupy Campbell to be their starter.)
HEADLINE: TONIGHT'S GAME TO WATCH' IS AT THE GARDEN
THE JIVE: That's "Garden," as in Madison Square where the first of a two-game Islanders-Rangers series will be played. A week or so ago, the match would have had less than passing significance but tonight it becomes a Big Deal On Seventh Avenue. The Rangers are rushing hard to close the gap and make a hair-breath bid for a playoff berth. Meanwhile the Isles -- they lost three-straight to the Caps -- are looking for a Return To Playoff Highway. (This much is certain; the Inter-County Rivalry is alive and well again.)
HEADLINE: A COACHING GIG FOR GERARD GALLANT
THE JIVE: One of the best unemployed coaches in the world finally got himself a gig; albeit a temporary one. The Great Gallant will head Team Canada in the World's. Which is well and good but what happens after that? The Maven's logic is that the Seattle Kraken would love to become a reasonable facsimile of the Vegas Golden Knights. The best way to become an expansion duplicate is to hire the coach who put Vegas on the NHL map; right up at the top. (Who else but the gallant Gallant!)
HEADLINE: JONATHAN DROUIN'S SITUATION
THE JIVE: The Canadiens have announced that forward Jonathan Drouin has been placed on long-term injured reserve. Drouin's somewhat mysterious removal from the Habs lineup was accompanied by a request from management. "We ask that you respect his privacy." (Sad to say this is yet another in a long, line of setbacks for Marc Bergevin's club. Let's hope that the player emerges from whatever the cause of his absence in good shape.)
HEADLINE: NORTH DIVISION VS. AMERICAN DIVISIONS -- WHO'S BETTER?
THE JIVE: Okay; we now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Maple Leafs and Oilers stand on a higher pedestal than their division competition. We also know that there's a decent chance that either Toronto or Edmonton will win its regional playoff. That would put one Canadian team in a battle with one of the best from below the border. What we do not know -- conjecture notwithstanding -- is how the Leafs or Oilers will fare against the best from below the 49th parallel. Or to put it another way; How good would Connor McDavid & Company fare against the defending champion Lightning? Or would Auston Matthews get away with his goal-scoring shenanigans with a Tom Wilson abusing him? (All good questions with no answers for a couple of months. But intriguing nevertheless.)
Who was the first NHL player to sport a moustache?
CLASSIC COMMENTS FROM YESTERYEAR:
"Sometimes people ask, 'Are hockey fights for real?' I say, 'If they weren't, I'd get in more of them."
The first NHL player with a moustache was Garth Boesch, the Maple Leafs defenseman in 1946.