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The Look Ahead: 2021 and 2022 drafts possess scintillating skaters

The youngest of the Hughes clan is a top dog after getting a rough ride from his brothers, while an 'exceptional' scorer is primed to make his mark on the major junior level.
Luke Hughes

Dan Hickling/OHL Images

Favorite For 2021: Pushed Positive

As the youngest of the three Hughes brothers, Luke has a lot to live up to. Fortunately, the swift blueliner has already flashed the potential that got Quinn to the NHL with Vancouver and made Jack the No. 1 prospect in the 2019 draft. So the question is: were Luke’s brothers easy or hard on him as a kid? “Probably hard on me,” he said. “We were pushing each other all the time when we were younger, trying to help each other get better and better. They’re such great idols and brothers.”

Playing for the Detroit Little Caesars program this past season, Hughes was under the tutelage of coaches/former NHLers Patrik Stefan and Bryan Smolinski. “He’s a very fun kid to be around, always smiling,” Stefan said. “But on the ice, he’s fearless. With his skating and his deception, it’s really hard to hit him or catch up to him.”

Hughes still needs to round out his game, but he’ll get the chance to grow next year as a member of the U.S. National Team Development Program.

2022 One To Watch: The Wright Stuff

Dan Hickling/OHL Images

Dan Hickling/OHL Images

The latest prospect to be granted exceptional status by the OHL, center Shane Wright will enter the league a year early as a member of the Kingston Frontenacs, and the15-year-old kid is not deterred by his youth. In fact, he’s been playing against older competition his whole life. “Growing up, I always felt I belonged,” said the native of Burlington, Ont. “And I always felt I could make a difference.”

The catalyst of a minor midget Don Mills Flyers team that lost only one game this season – and in overtime, at that – Wright piled up points thanks to his smarts, skating and playmaking ability. He now joins an exceptional-status category that includes the likes of Connor McDavid, John Tavares and Aaron Ekblad. “I’m so honored to be selected for this,” Wright said. “It’s been a goal of mine for quite a while. I watched those guys on TV almost every night.”

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