It’s not a name that you may be familiar with just yet, but Jack Hughes is one to remember. The 15-year old was captain of the Toronto Marlboros, one of the best midget teams in the country and expected to go first overall in the upcoming OHL draft to the Barrie Colts. Eligible for the 2019 NHL entry draft, Hughes is an early (very early) favorite for the top few picks.
Instead, Darren Dreger of TSN is reporting that Hughes—born in Orlando, Florida—will sign with the US National Development Team for the next part of his hockey career. As Dreger says, it will be interesting now to see how far he falls in the OHL draft as there have been examples before of players telling the league they would be heading somewhere else, only to sign with a stronger team (see: London Knights) after falling in the draft. Regardless of where he plays, Hughes is a phenom that deserves attention even at a young age.
- In addition to recalling Bryan Bickell less than five months after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the Carolina Hurricanes have brought up Andrew Poturalski from Charlotte and sent Lucas Wallmark and Phillip Di Giuseppe to the AHL. Poturalski went undrafted and signed with the Hurricanes last spring out of the University of New Hampshire. He has shown immense promise in his rookie AHL season, scoring 48 points in 69 games.
- Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s season has come to an end early, as the team granted him early release to head home and deal with the death of his mother. She had been fighting a battle with cancer all season, something that has weighed on Ekman-Larsson throughout the year. “This has been a very difficult year for me personally,” said Ekman-Larsson in a statement on the team website. “I’d like to thank the Coyotes organization and all of my teammates for their incredible support all season long. I’m sorry that I’ll miss our last three games but family comes first.”
- The Coyotes won’t be the only team without a top defender for the last few games, as the Florida Panthers will likely shut down Aaron Ekblad for the remainder of the season according to George Richards of the Miami Herald. Ekblad returned from a concussion on March 21st—a move that seemed reckless at the time—only to suffer headaches immediately after the game, causing coach Tom Rowe to admit his mistake. For the Panthers, who are eliminated from playoff contention, protecting your superstar defenseman is more important than winning some meaningless games down the stretch.