Jack Hughes is Gearing up to be Number One
It’s the middle of summer. I’ve left the family at the campsite and have rejoined civilization to share some hockey thoughts with you all. There truly is no offseason.
The big news of the week is that the 13th Annual Fantasy Hockey Guide is now available! This gem is jam-packed full of information applicable to a wide array of leagues and categories. It’s truly the best in the business and I was saying that even before I became fortunate enough to contribute to it.
Get it here.
The New York Rangers inked restricted free agent, Ryan Spooner to a two-year contract worth four million per season. The former Bruin shone brightly upon joining the Rangers. He recorded two goals and 13 points in his first eight games on Broadway while seeing between 15-19 minutes a night. 12 of those points came at even strength.
Not a bad show of faith to your new club.
The 26-year-old came back to earth after that, recording just one goal and three points over the final 12 games as New York sunk near the bottom of the standings. Yet, he still managed to set or tie career-highs in goals (13), even-strength points (34), points-per-game (0.69), hits (66), and time on ice (15:18). The Rangers have him on a friendly contract and are hoping he can fill in as the team’s third centre behind Mika Zibanejad and Kevin Hayes. Spooner will continue to work on the second power-play unit and create offence at even-strength.
He’s a streaky player that can be utilized as a streamer off the wire. Just don’t hold on for too long.
Don’t forget to vote in this week’s Cage Match Tournament. This will be the final tournament of the summer. This week you’ll be voting on which defensemen will exceed their career-best scoring output/rate by 10+-plus points.
The Winnipeg Jets came to terms with restricted free agent, Nic Petan. The 23-year-old and his agent were surely pushing hard for a one-way contract but had to settle for a one-year, two-way deal that pays him $874,125 in the NHL and a “paltry” $70K in the minors.
Petan has been stuck behind an abundance of talent in the Peg. He suited up for 54 games with the big club in 2016-17 while seeing two minutes per night on the power play. However, that total was reduced to just 15 NHL contests last season with virtually no opportunities on the man-advantage
Petan was amongst the top players in the American League last season when he produced 15 goals and 52 points in as many games. However, the logjam of forwards in front of him coupled with the two-way contract means he’s likely destined to end up there for long stretches again next season.
This screams of a player in need of a fresh start in an organization that can facilitate his terrific playmaking abilities but forgive his weakness in the corners. There should be at least a handful of bottom-feeders making calls to GM, Kevin Cheveldayoff regarding the former Portland Winterhawks star.
Pure speculation here but Canucks’ coach, Travis Green was behind the bench in Portland when Petan was racking up triple-digit campaigns. He’s already showed an affinity for having his former junior stars in Vancouver with Derrick Pouliot and Brendan Leipsic in the fold; perhaps Petan could find his way back to the west coast. We all know Vancouver could use a little more offence.
I tossed some points only keeper league pickums up this past week. Who do you prefer?
Don’t forget to swing by DobberProspects for all your prospect-related research. We’ve just concluded the first month of our annual 31-in-31 series recapping each team’s draft, development camp and off-season moves. August is when we break down the organizational rankings and more.
Speaking of prospects, the World Junior Summer Showcase is raging on in the heat of Kamloops, BC this week. A great number of future NHL stars and fantasy studs are out there strutting their stuff in hopes of pushing for a spot on their respective National squads for next Christmas.
The Americans are boasting a deadly looking lineup that features brother duo, Quinn and Jack Hughes. Much ink has been spilt already about Quinn deciding to return to the University of Michigan instead of turning pro and signing with the Canucks, but I’d like to take a moment to talk about Jack.
Jack is the projected consensus first overall pick in this coming draft and for good reason. He’s the first U17 player to record two points-per-game in the USHL this past season. He centred a ridiculous line with Oliver Wahlstrom and Joel Farabee on the U18 team and those three should hook up again for the US at the WJC too.
Unfortunately, it appears that the now-17-year-old wasn’t able to complete his high school courses a year early and join his brother at the UofM. That means he’ll be the first player to step right out of the US National Team Development Program and into the NHL.
Here’s a look at the top seasons by a U18 player with The Program. Notice that a 16-year-old Hughes has the second-highest point-per-game output already. He would've pushed for the record if he didn't play the first half of the year with the U17 squad. Imagine the numbers he’ll be throwing up in 2018-19.
I often get asked hypothetical questions on Twitter such as, “Who would go first overall if they were in the same draft, Jack Eichel or Jack Hughes? Or how about, Rasmus Dahlin or Hughes?”
I scouted a ton of USNTDP games last season and watched Matthews and Eichel closely in their lead-up to being drafted, and Jack Hughes was more dynamic at the same age. He is one of the best pure talents I’ve ever seen. He has speed that makes you think of Connor McDavid. Hands and creativity that are reminiscent of Patrick Kane, and a motor that doesn’t quit. The cerebral, crafty, and playmaking centre will be a pillar in the NHL for a very long time.
Start loading up on 2019 lottery picks in your leagues because those who are lucky enough to land the top spot next year will be adding an instantly-productive star to their squad that has an extremely high ceiling.
Thanks for reading and feel free to follow me on Twitter @Hockey_Robinson