I selected Hughes because he’s a dynamic skater, a great puck transporter, a gifted player who held his own as the youngest player in NCAA Division I hockey in 2017-18. He was third in scoring at Michigan with 29 points (five goals, 24 assists) in 37 games, along with a plus-14 rating.
I spoke to [U of M coach Mel] Pearson about what makes Hughes so special.
“His skating is incredible,” Pearson said. “The way he uses his edges — he’s so light on feet, he can stop and change direction on a dime. He can go back and get the puck and it’ll look like there isn’t much room, but because of his ability, he escapes. He thinks the game so well, and then with the way he can move his feet, it makes him a very special player. He brings you out of your seat.”
Before recruiting Hughes to play at the World Championship in May, U.S. assistant Dan Bylsma called Pearson to find out how Hughes handled power-play responsibilities (Wings coach Jeff Blashill, who was the U.S. head coach, also wanted to know).
“He ran our power play, ran our breakout,” Pearson said. “I talked to coach Blashill after the tournament and he said Quinn was great there. He has a heavy shot from the point, so he’s got the makings of a really good power play specialist. And being able to get the puck in the zone, he is so good at that. He controls the play. He demands the puck, he wants the puck, he is very confident when he has it.”