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2021 Blue Jackets Draft Prospect Profile: Luke Hughes could be much-needed bolster to CBJ defense

And the CBJ defense has some gaping holes to fill.

2018 NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

We are less than a month away from the 2021 NHL Entry Draft (July 23-24), so it’s time to start researching the prospects likely to be selected in the first round. The Columbus Blue Jackets currently hold three picks in that round: #5, #24, and #30 or #31.

Position: Defenseman
Team: U.S. National Team
Date of Birth: September 9, 2003
Birthplace: Canton, Michigan, U.S.A.
Height: 6’ 2”
Weight: 176
Shoots: Left

Ranked #1 by FCHOCKEY
Ranked #4 by NEUTRAL ZONE
Ranked #5 by TSN/BOB McKENZIE
Ranked #4 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
Ranked #4 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (NA Skaters)
Ranked #8 by SPORTSNET’S

2020-21 Stats
(USDP & USHL combined)

Games Played: 56
Goals: 10
Assists: 39
Points: 49
PIM: 22

Another Michigan guy to add to the mix!

Luke Hughes is a young, exciting prospect out of Canton, Michigan - and he’ll be spending his 2021-22 season as a Michigan Wolverine. Normally that’s unsavory to me, but I have grown to appreciate the Michigan to Ohio pipeline that the Jackets have developed over the years, and Hughes would be a welcome addition to a defensive line that’s going to need some serious restructuring.

With an enormous David Savard-sized hole in the back, as well as the all-but-final departure of Seth Jones, the Blue Jackets formerly stalwart defense is going to have a lot of room for growth and change. Younger guys like Vladislav Gavrikov, Gabriel Carlsson, and Andrew Peeke are going to have to step up to the plate, and the Jackets would do well to consider some younger incoming defensive talent.

If the Jackets are able to bite on Luke Hughes, I think they should - he’s an offensively productive left-handed D-man who’s good at scoring and great at assisting goals. Fingers crossed Zach Werenski will be back in full health in the start of the 2021-22 season, but he’s going to need some help with production from the back without Seth Jones on his line.

Hughes is a strong skater and is a highly sought-after draft prospect, with most rankings placing him in the top five range. Here’s what some scouts had to say about him:

Scouting Reports

Hughes starts with the perfect skating posture, settling comfortably into his stride as he darts around the ice. His skating habits are pretty stellar, too. Hughes collects the puck in-stride, skates through his passes, and weaponizes movement to draw opposing defenders to his orbit, creating space for his teammates. He’s always looking to create advantages with the puck on his stick. -EliteProspects 2021 NHL Draft Guide

“The big thing that separates Luke from his peers, no surprise given his name, is his elite skating and edgework. The ability to create space for himself with the puck by turning on a dime, or with a quick first step makes him impossible to defend against. His vision and playmaking ability has already made him an offensive driver on the NTDP U17s, and has even shown more ability to shoot the puck than Quinn has to this point in his career. A Quinn Hughes that scores more points is a very exciting prospect.”- Chris Dilks, SB Nation College Hockey

“Aside from Hughes’ skating, my second favorite attribute about the left-handed defenseman is his soft hands. Soft hands are always a great thing to have when you are distributing the puck, shifting around an attacker with the puck or trying to deliver a cross ice feed. While there are certainly moments where Hughes is more jumpy and a bit rough with his feeds, most of the time Hughes is delivering smooth feeds to teammates. In addition, his handy work also pays off when he takes the outside lane and shifts around an attacker while he is rushing up the ice.”- Josh Tessler, Smaht Scouting

“Of all of the top players in the class, he has arguably taken the biggest step forward. His offensive timing has improved and his defensive game continues to show progress. He is utilizing his mobility much more at both ends of the ice but not just for rushes down the wall or around the zone. Hughes is skating with a purpose when the puck is on his stick. Whether he’s walking the blueline with his impressive lateral mobility or cutting into the home plate area with his agility and quickness, Hughes understands how to be put pressure on his opponents. The biggest reason that he’s been able to take this step is that he has been exhibiting an advanced awareness of the play. He understands what is happening all over the ice and playing the angle and using his skill. Hughes will continue to be one to watch as he pushes towards the top of many draft rankings.”- Tony Ferrari, Dobber Prospects