Saturday is the last day of the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo, New York, with fitness testing, final measurements and media availability for all invitees. An unexpected omission from the fitness testing portion though was none other than presumptive No. 1 overall pick Jack Hughes. Hughes was schedule to undergo the numerous fitness testing programs, but he opted out instead. Speaking with the media, including The Buffalo News’ Mike Harrington, Hughes simply said that after a long season he didn’t feel the need to further prove himself.
The phenom forward just wrapped up a World Championship tournament that came after a full season with the U.S. National Team Development Program and stints at the U-20 and U-18 World Junior Championships. While Hughes has been busy playing hockey this last month, the vast majority of combine participants have instead been preparing for the specific fitness tests. Hughes accurately compared undergoing fitness testing without preparing to taking a test and not studying.
There is little question as to where Hughes will be selected later this month and thus no upside to his participation. It also helps his case that Kaapo Kakko, the only player who could push Hughes from the top spot in the draft, skipped the combine entirely to celebrate his World Championship victory with Finland back home.