It’s mock draft season, and the Ottawa Senators are on the clock. As expected, the top three prospects of Dahlin, Svechnikov and Zadina are off the board, leaving us with a handful of fantastic options.
With the fourth pick of the draft, the Ottawa Senators select, from the University of Michigan, defenceman Quinn Hughes.
With their highest pick since drafting Jason Spezza in 2001, it would be an understatement to say that this is a crucial pick for the Sens’ future. Sliding down two spots in the draft lottery, the Sens’ draft staff have found themselves in an interesting position, in that they have the first pick past the consensus top three (that is, unless something unexpected happens). There were a bunch of options for us to choose from, although in the end we at Silver Seven decided to pick Quinn Hughes, who in our opinion was the best player available.
Players like Hughes are a rare breed in the NHL. First, he’s from Orlando, Florida, and could be the first NHLer from the city. But more importantly, he has an incredible skillset, with big emphasis on his skating ability and hockey IQ. At 5’10”, he’s undersized compared to your average NHL defenceman. Although, considering his high-end ability to process the game, he’s shown no weakness in playing against top competition. He’s been tagged as the proto-typical new-age defenceman in the NHL — he’s a monster when it comes to zone transitions, and can limit the opposition’s chances using his speed and positioning. In a league where speed is becoming more and more valuable, you’d be glad to know that Hughes has been touted by many as the draft class’ best skater.
Because he’s a late birthday (born October 14th 1999), Hughes was one of only a small handful of first-year-draftees who played in the NCAA. He’s had more time to develop than most of the other prospects in the draft, so it’s worth being conscientious and making that adjustment (he’s 10 months older than Adam Boqvist, for example). However, we’re confident enough in Hughes’ skillset that he compares well to his cohorts, even in the previous draft. As a quick comparison, last year’s 4th overall pick, Cale Makar, scored 0.62 points per game in the NCAA this season. Meanwhile Hughes, a year younger, put up 0.78 points per game. While there are definitely other factors to consider, Hughes’ relatively older age to his fellow draftees doesn’t discredit him from being an elite prospect.
He took his game to an even further level after the NCAA season was over, being invited to play against the pros on USA’s World Championships roster. There he won a bronze medal, also picking up two assists in his ten games. He joins a group of U19 defencemen to play on the squad that includes Jacob Trouba, Noah Hanifin and Zach Bogosian in the last ten years.
While there are many quality options for the Sens to choose from at pick #4, we at Silver Seven believe that Quinn Hughes is the best option. Here are some highlights: