Jack Hughes, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver on June 21-22, is writing a monthly diary this season for NHL.com leading up to the draft. The 17-year-old forward, who is the brother of Vancouver Canucks defenseman prospect Quinn Hughes, the No. 7 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, is a center playing for USA Hockey's National Team Development Program Under-18 team. He led the NTDP with 86 points (23 goals, 63 assists) in 41 games. In his latest entry, Hughes talks about being on hand for the NHL Draft Lottery, the upcoming IIHF World Under-18 Championship in Sweden (April 18-28) and the NHL debut of his brother.
Hi hockey fans.
I was fortunate and happy to be a part of the NHL Draft Lottery in Toronto on Tuesday. It was a fun experience; it's the next step to the NHL Draft.
After the lottery, I got on a plane and flew to meet my teammates in Finland to prepare for the U-18 World Championship. We'll then fly as a team to Sweden, where the tournament is being held.
It's crazy to think we've reached this point in our careers. We've been working two years for this, for the same common goal. We put in so much work to win the U18s at the end of this season and it's finally here. I'm sure we'll be ready to go but it also kind of symbolizes an ending for us as teammates. We're closing our chapter at the NTDP. This is obviously a huge tournament for us and after all the work we've put in together to win this, doing that would be unbelievable.
I played in this tournament last year and know that it's a long and grinding tournament. We're over there 21 days so it's a long time. It's all about composure; we lost two games in the round-robin and ending up winning a silver medal (after losing to Finland in the gold-medal game). At the same time, the tournament moves along fast. Once you get going you're playing game after game, so you need to eat well, sleep well, recover fast. You've got to be at your best every game because it's going to be a battle no matter who you play. It's a great tournament to be a part of.
We've gone through so much over these past two years at the NTDP, coming in as 16-year-olds and playing against older competition and now it's coming down the stretch. Being on a team with all kids your own age, and going through the same experiences, we have a good bond and a good team inside the locker room. I think our on-ice play speaks for itself. And with the number of good players we have, it's a great mix of talent.
I have to talk about the play of my brother, Quinn, in his five games with the Canucks at the end of the season. He had three assists and it was unreal to watch him. That was probably the most fun I had watching NHL hockey in a lot of years. It was really cool to see him play and see his dream come true of finally playing in the NHL, and not just playing in the NHL but to do as well as he did. All Vancouver fans and NHL fans are really excited to see what he can do for years to come, and we're proud of him.
At the end of the World Under-18 Championship, I'll return home and definitely watch the NHL playoffs, 100 percent. When I wake up I'll catch the highlights and check the scores and see what's going on around the League. Any hockey fan in my situation would do the same. It's the best time of the season.
Until next month, enjoy the playoffs everyone.