We've all heard it to this point..... "Generational Player", "Auston Matthews shot with Patrick Kane's stick handling", and on and on it goes. While that is all "fun" and "exciting" to everyone, me included, It'd like to focus in on another elite player; Jack Hughes.
Hughes was the #1 overall pick in 2019 and it was a pick that was set in stone a long time before the draft (just like this upcoming draft). Jack was undersized at the center position (listed at 5-10,165 at the time he was in the USHL) yet was still putting up just ridiculous numbers (2 pts per game in the USHL and 112 points in just 50 games for the NTDP). Again, all things that line up with Connor Bedard's juniors career (not the same, but still exorbitant stats).
Now where there is seperation is in 2 areas. One, Connor Bedard has all the accolades because his shot (drag moves, release points, quickness, pin point accuracy) is just on a different level than anyone else. Secondly and more importantly, against the best competition he shined like we haven't seen before. To be fair, Jack Hughes was just amazing in his WJC-18/20 tournanments averaging well over 2pts per game. It's the fact that as a 17 year old in a U20, Bedard averaged more than 3pts a match. That is simply on a different level.
So in terms of players, they are similar in size with concerns about long term position. If you remember, Hughes did play wing at times until eventually securing the role he was always most comfortable with at center. His rookie year was all but encouraging though, just 21 points in 61 games (typically 3rd line numbers) until showing improvement in year 2 (31 points in 56 games, typically 2nd line production).
It wasn't until his third season (age 21) that a more physically strong Jack Hughes showed all he could do. A tremendous skater with elite hockey sense, Hughes averaged over a point per game and as we know year 4 has shown that Jack Hughes is a superstar in the NHL. 99 points (43 goals) in 78 games this season while leading the upstart Devils into the playoffs (11 points in 12 games).
It wasn't always easy for Hughes at first, but as the talent around him (as well as himself) started to mature, his skill started to shine through the way we all thought it would.
So, is Jack Hughes a perfect comparable with how Connor Bedards' first few seasons will go? No, for the sheer reason there isn't a player that is like him. Hughers and Bedard do have similarities though that we may see transpire. The main ones to watch out for are physical strength against mature competitors in years 3 and 4. The second is seeing a young roster grow with our young superstar. Also, Connor Bedards' growth as a complete player by learning the wing position at times.
Jack Hughes just put up 99 points with 43 goals while leading his team to a 112 point season. If your initial thought is; well Connor Bedard is way better! Well, we all hope that is the case, I just want to caution everyone on these factors that guided Jack Hughes' career to the player he is now. Which is pretty dang good.