BUFFALO, NY - Jack Hughes leaves little room for doubt.
He wants his dreams to come true.
"I always dream of being number one," Hughes said to a throng of media at the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo. "You don't dream of being two, three or four when you're a young kid. I want to be the first overall pick and I feel like that would be a dream come true if that happened."
It's a dream that is an entire possibility. Hughes is the top-ranked North American prospect heading into June's NHL Entry Draft. Both Hughes and Finnish prospect Kaapo Kakko are expected to be the top two picks in the draft.
Video: DRAFT | 1-on-1 with Jack Hughes
Hughes has had a whirlwind couple of months, let alone dealing with the amount of coverage his record-breaking year with the United States National Development Team received all season long. He appears mature beyond his 18 years as he fields questions about his future.
"I flew to Toronto for the [draft] lottery and the same night after the pick was picked, I was on a flight 40-minutes later to Europe," Hughes said. "I've been in Europe the last two months, so it's kind of been a whirlwind, playing a lot of hockey and I haven't really had time to digest what's going on. I'm just taking it in stride and having fun with it."
Hughes was at the World Championship with Team USA before arriving in Buffalo for the Combine. And once he arrived, the action didn't stop. He interviewed with 10 NHL clubs over the course of the week and as he does on the ice, he felt his need to bring his A-Game in those interviews as well.
Video: RAW | Jack Hughes at the Combine
"It's a little crazy," Hughes said, "You hear about it for a lot of years from friends, but once you're there it's a really busy week. You've got to be on your A-Game all week. It's a little crazy how you have to repeat the same stories 10 times, right? So, you've got to kind of refocus every new meeting, it's a new meeting."
Hughes is an astute young man, one who, before having ever suited up for an NHL team, understands just how valuable to the longevity of his NHL career will be through this combine process is.
"I had 10 meetings this week, obviously the two really important ones," he added. "You never know who is going to trade for who, what picks are going to be traded and in a couple of years you never know who is going to be GM of what team. They're all important meetings."
The spotlight is slightly brighter on Hughes this week without Kakko at the combine. The Finnish star did not attend after a gold-medal World Championship victory with Finland, so it is left up to Hughes to navigate the Hughes versus Kakko questions.
"I think it's good competition," he said when asked about the comparison between the two players. "Every year that one and two are competing with each other. I know [Kakko] had a great year and I think we'll be linked to each other for a lot of years with the Rangers and Devils right there. I'm excited and I think it's been a good year for both of us."
So, with Hughes and Kakko expected to go a version of one-two, Hughes was asked what uniform he feels he'd look best in.
The red and black of the Devils, or the blue, red and white of the Rangers.
"I think I'd look good in either," Hughes joked, toeing the company line. "I think I've had a great year. Either way I'd be really happy."
But we all know, Hughes' dream is to go number one overall.
And we all know that puts him in New Jersey.