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Hughes passes on Combine fitness testing, 'needed a bit of a break'

Projected No. 1 pick in NHL Draft less than 100 percent after two postseason tournaments

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

BUFFALO -- Jack Hughes, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, did not participate in the fitness testing at the 2019 NHL Scouting Combine on Saturday after his mandatory medical exam three days earlier showed he was less than 100 percent.

The center played seven games for the United States at the 2019 IIHF World Under-18 Championship in April and seven games at the 2019 IIHF World Championship in May. The United States was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the World Championship on May 23 and Hughes arrived in Buffalo four days later.

"I think I knew coming into the combine I wasn't going to do the testing because I really haven't trained for it, playing hockey the past two months," Hughes said. "I really haven't had a break. It just didn't make sense to do the testing. My body needed a bit of a break.

"That said, I'm a competitive kid and I felt like I could have done well in some of this stuff."

 

[RELATED: Draft Diary: Jack HughesComplete NHL Draft coverage]

 

A specific injury was not disclosed. The tests include a standing long jump, vertical jumps, pull-ups, bench press, grip strength, shuttle run, and stationary bicycles. Body-fat percentage and wingspan are measured.

Hughes led the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team with 112 points (34 goals, 78 assists) in 50 games this season. He holds NTDP career records for assists (154) and points (228) in 110 games over two seasons.

He was one of 17 players from the National Team Development Program invited to the combine and was interviewed by 10 NHL teams this week, including the New Jersey Devils, who hold the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft after winning the NHL Draft Lottery. The New York Rangers have the No. 2 pick and Chicago Blackhawks have the No. 3 pick.

"The interviews are tough because you have to refocus every time," Hughes said. "Obviously, the Devils and the Rangers were the most important interviews for me. I felt like both of those went good and I was comfortable with both of them."

Video: Hughes on catching up with peers at Scouting Combine

The 18-year-old will join four 2019 draft prospects in St. Louis for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final between the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins on Monday: defenseman Bowen Byram (No. 2 in NHL Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters) of Vancouver in the Western Hockey League, and forwards Kirby Dach (No. 3) of Saskatoon (WHL), Alex Turcotte (No. 4) of the NTDP, and Dylan Cozens (No. 5) of Lethbridge (WHL).

The 2019 NHL Draft will be held at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on June 21-22.

"I think it's so crazy how the draft is built up for one day and then once that day comes you're almost forgotten and it's on to the next group," Hughes said. "I'm really excited to see where I go in the draft, and it'll be an awesome day for me and my family."

 

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