Trade Target: Jack Hughes

Mark Barbour (@18sktrs,

The inspiration for this article came when I updated my skater projections the other day. I noticed that an intriguing skater has emerged as a potential Round-1 selection in some fantasy hockey drafts. It wasn’t Jason Robertson or Tage Thompson, though both of those skaters are rising in my projections. No, it was a skater who doesn’t seem to have quite the same level of hype this season: Jack Hughes.

People are obviously aware of Jack Hughes, but I sense there’s more enthusiasm for the rise of Robertson and Thompson. That’s good. It means you might have a chance to acquire Jack Hughes. I think you should probably try to do that, especially if you’re in a keeper league that will permit you to hold him throughout his career. I don’t want to say “get him at any cost” but I will say “this isn’t the time to be stingy”. I’ll mention some potential trade scenarios later in this article.

A quick note before getting started: you’re going to see other interesting names pop up in the data presented in this article. I suggest watching for Cole Caufield, but there are other skaters of interest too. I won’t comment on those other skaters today but you can always investigate on your own. OK, let’s go.

5v5 Goals Scored This Season

We’ll start by looking at 5v5 goals scored this season. This first plot shows the leading 5v5 goal scorers along with their shots data. Each skater’s dot is colour-coded based on his total shots and also displays his age. When a skater appears in the top right corner of this plot, it’s a good thing.

Jack Hughes has scored the most 5v5 goals in the NHL this season, and he’s done that by taking the most shots among the leading scorers. At age-21, he’s the youngest skater in the plot. That’s a promising start, now let’s look at more data.

5v5 Shots This Season

I’m going to quickly run through a few tables now, starting with one that shows the skaters with the most shots at 5v5 this season. The difference between this table and the plot above is that the plot was filtered for skaters who had scored the most goals at 5v5. This table simply looks at the shots leaders. Jack Hughes is in fine company here and once again is the youngest skater on the list.

Timo Meier26131
Jack Hughes21125
David Pastrnak26119
Auston Matthews25116
Brady Tkachuk23111
Alex Ovechkin37110
Jason Robertson23109
Mikko Rantanen26107
Zach Hyman30105
Tage Thompson25104

5v5 Goals In The Last 82 Team Games

What happens if we look back at the last 82 team games played? Does Jack Hughes still have strong 5v5 scoring numbers if we look at the equivalent of a full season’s worth of data?

Auston Matthews257633
Jason Robertson238231
Cole Caufield227930
David Pastrnak267229
Tage Thompson258129
Jack Hughes216629
Jeff Skinner307927
Sidney Crosby358127
Connor McDavid268126
Matthew Tkachuk257926

Once again Jack Hughes is among the best of the best.

This is important: look at the “GP” column in the above table. Jack Hughes played only 66 of his last 82 team games, significantly fewer games than the skaters ahead of him on the list. How does Hughes compare if we look at rate stats instead of simple counts?

5v5 Goals/60 In The Last 82 Team Games

In this table I’ve included data about each skater’s expected goals, shots, and scoring chances to provide some context on how “sustainable” the scoring rates are (more on this in the next plot).

David Pastrnak26721.721.0312.4811.53
Jack Hughes21661.721.1111.2211.46
Auston Matthews25761.691.3212.2615.47
Cole Caufield22791.650.899.559.39
Ross Colton26811.641.129.3910.32
Tage Thompson25811.611.0510.8711.54
Jared McCann26761.570.667.257.64
Jason Robertson23821.530.939.9710.85
Jeff Skinner30791.511.2211.0111.91
Jake DeBrusk26781.480.9810.179.12

Jack Hughes is tied with David Pastrnak as the leader in 5v5 Goals/60 during the most recent 82-game period.

I’m going to finish this discussion with a plot that combines a skater’s expected goals, shots, and scoring chances into a single “scoring metric” (displayed on the x-axis). The skaters who appear in the top right corner of the plot score the most goals and have a strong scoring metric to support their scoring rates.

There’s Jack Hughes again, looking real nice.

Trade Strategies

I’ll repeat what I said at the start of this article: you really should try to get Jack Hughes on your roster if you’re in a keeper league that will permit you to hold him throughout his career. He’s only 21, which makes him very valuable. Compare him to Tage Thompson who is 25 – you’ll get roughly 4 years of production out of Hughes before he reaches the point where Thompson is right now. Then there’s the tantalizing possibility that at age-21 Jack Hughes could get better as he gains experience in the league.

When it comes to trades it’s impossible to give advice that applies equally to every fantasy hockey league. The value of skaters is affected by unique league settings and you must take that into account when considering trade scenarios. In my opinion, using customizable skater projections is the best starting point when evaluating a skater’s value in your league.

With that caveat out of the way, Jack Hughes is going to be a top skater in all but the most obscure formats. In many points leagues (including leagues that award points for hits and blocks) he’s in the conversation as a Round-1 draft pick. In category leagues with heavy “banger” stats he’s a little further down the list. Either way, his current value is almost certainly higher than where he was drafted this year. Try to take advantage of that if you can.

So what trade scenarios might be realistic here? If I was in a keeper league and my team was trending towards missing the playoffs I would be looking at Jack Hughes right now. Assuming my trade partner is trying to compete this year I would offer a very good keeper plus my best non-keeper (assuming that the non-keeper adds real value for the person acquiring him). In many cases I expect the person trading away Jack Hughes in this scenario would be receiving an excellent skater who was ranked higher than Jack Hughes coming into this season, plus an upgrade further down the roster. I could see some people jumping on that as they try to “win now”.

In other scenarios it could be more difficult to acquire Jack Hughes. You’ll probably need to find a trade partner who either values skaters based on where they were drafted at the start of the season (which is not a good strategy) or who is concerned about a young skater and wants to trade him for more of a “sure thing” (which can be a good strategy in some cases). You’ll just have to find out who you’re dealing with. Some people aren’t going to let go of Jack Hughes and I don’t blame them.

The End Of The Article

That’s all for this week. I’ll be back here next week with another original data-driven article. In the meantime you can find my daily posts on Consider following me on Twitter at @18sktrs if you want to be notified about the content I’m creating here, there and anywhere.


Mark (18 Skaters)

The Data

The data for this article were pulled from Natural Stat Trick and include games played on or before 2023-01-10.

2 thoughts on “Trade Target: Jack Hughes

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