Sitting around a TV with Joey Anderson, fellow USA Hockey National Team Development Program teammate and Devils draft pick Patrick Moynihan and prospect Matt Hellickson, Hughes was hoping to see Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays win the All-Star Home Run Derby.
“It was a fun event to watch. It was pretty cool,” said Hughes, who stayed in Toronto after the draft.
There was nothing disappointing for Hughes or the Devils on Tuesday as the NHL team opened its development camp at the Prudential Center.
The 18-year-old playmaking center gave the Devils coaching staff and media a good glimpse of all the skills that made him the No. 1 pick in the draft last month. He buzzed up and down the ice, snapped shots on goal and made passes in tight spots that found open teammates.
Of course, it was just a 45-minute practice and there was almost no hitting. But Hughes showed a lot of the talent that many expect to be on display when the regular season opens in October.
“It was good to get out here and get in a little skate and get our feet under us,” Hughes said after the start of the camp which will end on Saturday. “It was good to come out there with the jersey on for the first time.”
Hughes, who is wearing No. 86, skated with three dozen other players in the camp, including nine of the 11 players drafted last month. The others are mostly young players who were in the American Hockey League last season and might have had briefs stays with the Devils during the course of the season.
Hughes’ hope this week is to learn about playing in the NHL and learning his way around his new home rink.
On the ice, Hughes looked relaxed and right at home.
“None of this is possible without the ice,” Hughes said. “That’s where I have had the most fun and what I love to do. Like I said, none of this is possible without the game of hockey. I know that.”
Hughes is looking forward to some 3-on-3 competition Wednesday and scoring some goals. He had 74 goals and 154 assists in 110 games with the U.S. development program.
“I am focused and ready to play in the NHL,” Hughes said. “That’s my goal. I want to be successful. It’s not really a thing I think about. It’s kind of an expectation for me.”
Moynihan, who was taken in the sixth round and will play at Providence College next season, has no doubt Hughes will succeed.
“He is an amazing person, first and foremost, and he is a great player,” Moynihan said. “With his ability to see the ice, the way he skates, I think he can do anything with this game.”