Why Jack Hughes could be the best USNTDP product ever

Players lift three times or four times a week under the direction of the program’s strength coach. They check in with the academic advisor on staff. They attend team or individual sessions and maybe drop in on the coaches — a couple of days before the game against Waterloo, Hughes dropped in to watch video with Wroblewski and Hinote. “That’s not out of the ordinary at all,” Wroblewski says. “Jack soaks up coaching. Every player who thinks there isn’t room for improvement is going to flatline. Look at Auston Matthews — he scored all those goals last year and then spent a summer working on making his shot better. What we talked to Jack about was getting lost on the ice — we showed him video of teams sending two or three guys after him, trying to take him off his game or take him out. We’re working on him getting lost in fray, being the 10th guy away from the puck, taking inventory on the ice, and not being the focal point of attention with the puck on his stick. We broke down video of Kane, Marner, Gaudreau and Barzal to show him how they’ll get lost on the ice and let the puck go through someone else. He’s a real student of the game. He watches video here and I know that when he gets home, he’s breaking it down even more.”

By the time he makes his way back to the Hughes home in Canton, Jack has been on the run for a full 12 hours. He eats a dinner per the schedule from a nutritionist. After dinner he does his homework and if the stars line up, has an hour at liberty. He’s in bed at 9:30. Though living at home, he follows the schedule laid out by the NTDP staff for all players. There is a curfew but it would seem a miracle if anyone could stay up late enough to break it.

Hughes says he thought about trying to qualify for the NCAA this season, cramming two years of academics into one. Others have made the jump directly from the under-17s to the collegiate ranks, most notably Noah Hanifin of the Calgary Flames and Zach Werenski of the Columbus Blue Jackets. If he had gone that way, Jack might have had an opportunity to play with Quinn at Michigan, but how he could squeeze more into his overflowing days is hard to imagine. With the U17s playing a full USHL schedule, the team had to abide by league travel rules so as not to gain any advantage — as a result, at the end of a week of exertions, the teenagers often had to board buses for, say, a 17-hour overnight ride to Omaha or a marathon trek for weekend games in Iowa.

Originally published at https://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/juniors/jack-hughes-nhl-draft-world-juniors-big-read/

Post Author: HockeyHawk