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Luke Hughes out for US at Under-18 Worlds due to injury

A-rated defenseman still among top prospects in 2021 NHL Draft, U.S. coach tells 'NHL Draft Class' podcast

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Luke Hughes, an A-rated defenseman prospect for the 2021 NHL Draft, is injured and will not play for the United States at the 2021 IIHF Under-18 World Championship.

Hughes (6-foot-2, 184 pounds) scored 34 points (six goals, 28 assists) in 38 games but last played March 7 because of an undisclosed injury. The tournament begins April 26 in Texas.

"Due to injury and he's been out for a little bit, he'll be unable to play there," United States coach Dan Muse said Wednesday on the "NHL Draft Class" podcast.

Muse, who coached Hughes this season on the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team, believes Hughes played enough games this season to show scouts that he should follow his brothers as top NHL draft picks.

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes was chosen with the No. 7 pick of the 2018 NHL Draft, and New Jersey Devils forward Jack Hughes was selected with the No. 1 pick of the 2019 NHL Draft.

The 2021 draft is scheduled for July 23-24.

"The thing that really stands out is his skating," Muse said. "He's so good on his edges, he's so good with his separation, that mobility that he has, his ability to separate from opponents, his ability to break pucks out. The driving force behind that is his skating and his edge work. It makes him a very elusive player.

"And what really showed as his game developed over the course of the year was the way he defended. It starts with that skating, but he's also got hat long reach. So you're combining his skating, his mobility, his ability to close time and space on the opponent. Really a lot of times with him, he's such a good skater that'll start in the offensive zone. He'll be able to, the opponent gets the puck and he'll close on them and there's no room to work. His game improved a ton in the defensive zone."

Muse also discussed his preparation for the tournament and two of his top forwards, Chaz Lucius and Sasha Pastujov, each of whom received A ratings from NHL Central Scouting, discussed their seasons on the podcast.

Lucius explained his recovery from a bone lesion on his knee, while Pastujov, who was named player of the game at the BioSteel All-American Game, told the story of how his parents met while working for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

The podcast is free, and listeners can subscribe on all podcast platforms, including iTunes, Spotify and Google Podcasts. It also is available on NHL.com/multimedia/podcasts and the NHL app.

Listen: New episode of NHL Draft Class

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