The Richmond Hill, Ontario native blossomed in his third season with the Kingston Frontenacs, refining his goal-scorer’s touch and reminding everyone why he was such a highly prized early draft pick when he came into the league at the age of 16.
Hughes already had a pair of impressive seasons under his belt before the 2005-06 campaign kicked off. He wowed scouts and fans alike with 11 goals and 27 points in his rookie season – showing the ability to drive to the net. He steadily improved the next year with 17 goals and 38 assists in 66 games last year. This year, playing on the team’s top line, the 18-year-old center bettered his two-year goal total with 35, adding 40 assists.
Hughes is a two-time member of the Ontario Under-17 Team at the World Hockey Challenge and he was also a participant in the Top Prospect game. Questions remain as to whether Hughes is a product of the talent that he plays alongside in Kingston or a catalyst in allowing that talent to blossom, but his development this season has allayed any fears that he may not be a top-flight prospect.
2006-07: While he missed the first 100-point season of his young career by only four points, his 40 goals and 56 points in just 59 games made for an impressive 96-point campaign. Hughes finished 10th in the OHL regular-season scoring race, and had three points during a five-game playoff series exit against the Oshawa Generals. He missed eight games with a knee strain late in the season, but returned in mid-March. Signed to an entry-level contract in April of 2007.
4th round (123rd overall), 2007 by Carolina
2007-08: Hughes’ first full professional season was derailed by a neck injury that limited him to just 26 games in Albany. Hughes managed six goals and 10 assists in his short time with the River Rats. If Hughes can overcome the injury and get a chance to put a full season in the AHL, the Hurricanes will have a better idea of where his development stands.
2008-09: Appearing in 27 games with Albany, the Richmond Hill native would score four goals and three assists.
2009-10: Appearing in only five games with Bridgeport, he would go pointless. He would also lace up with Utah of the ECHL, scoring two goals and three assists.