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 this season. He leads the team with 56 points (13 goals, 43 assists) in 28 games.
In his fifth entry, Hughes recaps the 2019 World Junior Championship. Hughes had four points, all assists, in four tournament games. The United States won a silver medal, losing to Finland in the championship game. Hughes missed three games with an undisclosed injury.
It was awesome to play in the World Juniors, represent the United States and get a chance to play with my brother, Quinn. It was a lot of fun and many good memories for sure. It was a good couple of weeks for me and my family.
We had a good group in that locker room. A lot of good kids and a lot of great players, so it was fun to be around them and get to know them even better and winning a fourth straight medal at World Juniors was important. We would have preferred a gold medal, but we'll settle for silver. Now all of us are back with our regular teams but I know we'll all look back on the tournament and remember it as a great couple of weeks.
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I tweaked an injury in a pre-tournament game and it persisted in our opening win against Slovakia, so the coaches thought it more important for me to rest and come back for the medal games rather than rushing me back for three more preliminary games. I felt like I played really good hockey. I feel like the tournament was good for me. I would have liked to have done a little bit more but it's over now and I'm looking ahead to the future.
At the end of the gold medal game and the 3-2 loss against Finland, the media asked for me to talk and I knew that was the last thing I really had to do to finish my job and close the book on the tournament before getting back to the National Team Development Program. So, I felt like I was obligated to go and represent myself and my team as best as I could. It wasn't an easy situation but, for me, it was kind of closing the chapter and flipping the page.
Video: Analyzing play of Hughes brothers at World Juniors
Right now, I feel good and hungry to succeed, and want to have a solid second half of the season.
Our next big team tournament is the 5 Nations in Sochi, Russia (Feb. 5-9) against Finland, Sweden, Russia and Czech Republic. That'll be a big one but then we'll look forward to the IIHF World Under-18 Championship in Sweden in April.
We defeated the University of Wisconsin 6-2 in our last game against a college opponent this season (on Jan. 12). It just goes to show how good of a team we are. Even when me and goalie Spencer Knight were not with the team because we were with the U.S. at the World Juniors, the NTDP U-18's went into Minnesota Duluth and won (4-2), and also won at St. Cloud State (6-4). We have a really good group and it just kind of shows where we've been all year.
My recent linemates have been Cole Caufield and Trevor Zegras so it's pretty good. We have good chemistry.
I was told NHL Central Scouting will release their midterm rankings next week, but that really doesn't mean a lot to me. I'm not even going to look [at the rankings]. I'm just going to keep playing and keep pushing. I have a lot of things in mind that I wish to accomplish with my team. The number one thing is winning that gold medal in April, that's the biggest thing for me personally and my teammates. That's what we're all hungry for and what is on our minds. I do have my own personal things but winning 5 Nations and then the Under-18 World Championship is the main priority.
Thanks for reading this month. Talk to you in February.