Luke Hughes is a fantastic option for the New Jersey Devils and would be a clear-cut pick who is a 6’2” 176-pound left defenseman committed to playing at the University of Michigan. Luke brings a super easy skating game which will remind a lot of people of his older brothers Quinn Hughes and Jack Hughes when it boils down to that common family hockey trait. Another thing I absolutely find interesting in Luke is that he isn’t afraid to be a puck carrier like a Miro Heiskanen at the NHL level, but I also project Luke to go two seasons at minimum to build up his hockey frame to a 6’2” 200-pound frame over that time.
I find the offensive defenseman Luke already is will be a positive thing to have because I can see in two to three seasons Reilly Walsh who is a right-handed defenseman who I find to be a modern Brian Rafalski type defenseman who loves playing on the power play and improving his even-strength offensive game. Under the University of Michigan, I can see Luke being converted more into a two-way defenseman and doing even more damage becoming a very reliable defenseman.
Yes in my prospective candidate ranking I have had not one but two relatives of New Jersey Devils draftees. This player is a defenseman named Brandt Clarke. Yes, this kid is the younger brother to Graeme Clarke who is a really good sniper of a winger in the New Jersey Devils AHL system. However, Brandt is an excellent right-handed defenseman who knows how to handle the puck in both the defensive and neutral zones. He is very reliable in retrieving loose pucks.
Brandt knows when to use his instincts very well along with his vision to join on the attack in offensive zone entries. His skating reminds me similarly to Cale Makar in the way he skates with ease, but he does kick it up another notch in crashing the net. With all the defensemen I have seen dating back over the years Brandt has a lot to offer.
The Situation of Drafting Brandt Clarke
If the New Jersey Devils somehow don’t have Luke Hughes falling to them at fourth overall then going for a right-handed defenseman in Brandt Clarke makes perfect sense because Brandt brings a very similar dynamic and a family member chemistry to the New Jersey Devils locker room. In a span of two to three years, you can see how Brandt matures into a more seasoned skater and defender.
The New Jersey Devils would benefit from his offensive, run, and gun style of hockey that fits under coach Lindy Ruff’s style of coaching. Also if Mark Recchi is around on the Devils coaching staff he can help improve the overall offensive output Clarke brings to the Devils power play and a young and growing offense.
The Situation of Drafting Luke Hughes
Luke Hughes would bring a very strong dynamic to his brother Jack Hughes in the clubhouse locker room similar to the way his dear friend Ty Smith on defense. Luke would help grow that ever-growing pool of left-handed defense prospects that could easily simmer over to the point that General Manager Tom Fitzgerald may have to move a few players to make room over time. It’s a win-win situation for Fitzgerald and the Devils organization to help improve the ever-growing nucleus of Devils defensemen.
The New Jersey Devils come out on top with one of their two first-round picks already completed by picking one of three top-rated NHL Central Scouting of North American Skaters (Owen Power, Luke Hughes, and Brandt Clarke) via NHL.com or even four if you count Swedish Defenseman Simon Edvinsson ranked second overall amongst European skaters. There is no clear number one overall pick.
So the Devils walk away with a very bright and dynamic defenseman that will benefit the team in the nearer term. I see Tom Fitzgerald, Paul Castron, and company coming away with a bright super defenseman that can help propel the Devils with youth, lots of talent, and an internal option that bolsters the Devils when the core grows two to four years older as veteran players that can help make the team a playoff contender over time.
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