BUFFALO, N.Y. – Dan Marr will never forget the first time Jack Hughes landed on his radar as a potential top NHL draft prospect.
It happened last summer, when the NHL Central Scouting director was attending a skills camp in Toronto.
After listing New Jersey's Taylor Hall, Edmonton's Connor McDavid and then-Islanders captain John Tavares as the best three players on the ice, Marr added: “The next best player was Jack Hughes.”
Even at 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, Marr said the 17-year-old stood out for a variety of reasons.
“It was a series of drills that they were doing that involved skating, quickness, speed, execution, precision. And right away you could see he already has an NHL shot,” Marr said Friday, speaking at the NHL's annual pre-draft scouting combine in Buffalo. “So he's got the talent that he belongs in that group.”
Little has happened to change Marr or anyone else's mind since.
From Orlando, Florida, Hughes is Central Scouting's top-ranked North American skater after spending the past two seasons setting USA Hockey National Team Development Program's record by combining for 228 points (74 goals, 154 assists) in 110 games.
Finland's Kaapo Kakko is the top-ranked European skater.
The two are projected to be selected with one of the two top picks – the Devils select first followed by the New York Rangers – at the NHL draft at Vancouver, British Columbia on June 21-22.
– Associated Press