Why the LA Kings should draft Luke Hughes if he’s available

LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) /

Now that we know where the LA Kings will drafting in the first round of the 2021 NHL draft, let’s take a look at why they should take Luke Hughes if he is available.

The annual NHL Draft Lottery was held on Wednesday night, this time for the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. By the time all the ping pong balls had been drawn, the LA Kings learned they would be picking eighth in this draft.

While it’s certainly not as lofty of a spot as last year’s number two slot, there will still be plenty of good players left for the Kings to choose from at number eight.

One area of need the Kings need to address is a dormant offense, especially from the blueline. General Manager Rob Blake has made it clear he is looking for a young, dynamic, left-shot defenseman. Fortunately for Mr. Blake, a fellow in this draft class fits that bill perfectly – and his name is Luke Hughes.

You may have heard of Luke’s older brothers. Quinn Hughes is already the number one defenseman in Vancouver, and Jack Hughes was the number one overall pick for the New Jersey Devils in 2019.

At six feet two inches tall and weighing 184 pounds, and just eighteen years of age, Luke is already bigger than both of his brothers. Like his brothers, he has phenomenal skating ability and uses that tool to generate offense.

Hughes played this past season with the USNTDP U18 team, incidentally the same program that Ontario Reign Head Coach John Wroblewski had coached. In 38 games played, the left-hand shooting Hughes put up six goals and 28 assists. In USHL play, he added four goals and 11 assists in just 18 games.

He enters the draft as the number four ranked North American skater in the NHL Central Scouting final rankings. For what it’s worth, TSN’s Craig Button has Hughes going to the Kings in his latest mock draft. Regardless of who drafts him. Luke Hughes will play at the University of Michigan next season.

For an idea of what the LA Kings could be getting if they can draft Hughes, here are some of the things Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst website and podcast (both of which I highly recommend) had to say about his abilities.

(He also recently joined our podcast)

Regarding his skating.

"There are several factors that tie into his willingness to take the puck the length of the ice with ease, but multi-directional quickness, balance, and agility are at the forefront. Hughes’s mobility when combined with a strong will to attack pressure is a major problem for opposing forecheckers and in turn, forechecking strategy as a whole."

About his shooting, passing, and playmaking.

"Hughes has a hard, accurate shot that he likes to keep low, but he can pick the corners without much backswing. He uses both the slapper and the wrister while manning the right point, and set plays are designed for him off the pass. The more you watch Hughes, the more you notice the confidence he has in his ability to fit the puck through any window, shot or pass."

In regards to his defense and physicality.

"Luke has the bigger frame (than his brother Quinn) and he certainly knows how to use it, but he also has the occasional mean streak where he’ll muscle up on an opponent alnog the boards. Additionaly, Luke plays very close to his line and will hold firm against the quickest of onrushing puck carriers, using his long reach and effective stick-on-puck technique. He’s by no means an eraser, nor does he intimidate with physicality."

As you can see, The Draft Analyst really likes Luke Hughes. Kournianos has him projected as a franchise defenseman who will play on the top pair.

Related Story. Luke Hughes 2021 NHL Draft Prospect Profile. light

It is unlikely that Luke Hughes will be available for the LA Kings to draft at number eight. Strange things happen at drafts, however, and every year players fall for whatever reasons. If this should happen to Hughes and he is available for them, the Kings should not hesitate to draft him.