MONTREAL (AP) — Cheers erupted from the crowd at Day 2 of the NHL draft when the Los Angeles Kings announced they were taking Jack Hughes with the 51st pick.
No, not THAT Jack Hughes, who already is in the league with the New Jersey Devils after going first in the draft three years ago. There was joy inside the Montreal Canadiens ‘ arena because this Jack Hughes is the son of the host team’s general manager.
Kent Hughes greeted Jack on the draft floor and gave him a hug and congratulations before the 18-year-old prospect could even put on a Kings jersey and hat.
“That part of it meant a lot,” Jerry Keefe, Hughes’ coach at Northeastern University, told The Associated Press in the stands at Bell Centre on Friday. “His whole family grew up here. His grandparents grew up here on both sides. Mom and dad grew up in Montreal. Having it here with his dad being the GM, I think that made it extra special.”
Jack said his father told him he wasn’t planning to take him, sparing him the pressure of being the GM’s son in Montreal. He already has plenty of pressure being the other Jack Hughes and has been in the spotlight playing college hockey.
“I wouldn’t have minded it,” Hughes said of the possibility of getting taken by the Canadiens. “It wouldn’t have really changed anything for me. At the end of the day, I want to play in the NHL … That’s really all that’s important to me. Whether it was Montreal, LA or any other team, I’d be fired up.”
FLAMES KEEP TALKING TO GAUDREAU
MVP candidate Johnny Gaudreau could hit the free agent market Wednesday, barring the Calgary Flames getting a last-minute deal done with the winger coming off a career year. GM Brad Treliving said he continues to talk to his agent in the hopes of keeping Gaudreau.
“Both sides are focused on trying to get a deal,” Treliving said. “These things take time. Johnny’s a really good player. There’s going to be a lot of attention. I think it’s real genuine on both sides to try and get a deal done.”
Gaudreau set career highs with 40 goals, 75 assists and 115 points in helping Calgary win the Pacific Division. He finished fourth in Hart Trophy voting as league MVP and could sign the richest free agent contract this year if he doesn’t return to the Flames.
“I genuinely think that everybody’s heart’s in the right place,” Treliving said. “We want to get the player signed. He wants to be in Calgary. But they’re big decisions. They’re life decisions. If he doesn’t sign with us, he’s earned the opportunity to look at the market. That’s something he’s got to consider. For us, it’s just trying to get our player signed.”
CIRELLI HAS SURGERY
Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli underwent surgery on his injured right shoulder on Tuesday, GM Julien BriseBois said. Cirelli played through the injury on the way to the Lightning reaching a third consecutive Stanley Cup Final before losing to Colorado.
Asked about a timeframe for Cirelli’s recovery, BriseBois said: “We’re still ironing that out. There’s a wide range there.”
USA HOCKEY SHINES
A total of 14 players from USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program were selected — nine more than the next-closest amateur club. The Philadelphia Flyers took two of them with their top picks: Cutter Gautheir fifth and Devin Kaplan 69th.
“Every year it continues to amaze me how many players they produce,” Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher said. “The whole development model they have is excellent. … There’s a lot of highly driven and motivated kids that play for the program, so I think they push each other and challenge each other.”
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