I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Sam Colangelo, who played with LA Kings’ second-round pick Jack Hughes at Northeastern last year.
Q: Playing on a line with him, where did you see him grow the most throughout the year?
A: Jack and I started off the year on the same line, and had a little bit of early success before we kind of went into a bit of a slump some might say and were broken up for a bit before I got injured. As I was watching in the stands, I noticed something about Jack’s game that caught me off guard in a way, but in a good way. Jack has always been an insanely skilled player with elite hands and vision, but he started to play the game 200 feet of the ice and started playing a physical game, despite being much smaller and far younger than most players in college hockey. Throughout, he got the “I don’t give a s**t how old or how heavy you are” mentality. That’s where I thought he grew the most.
Q: Known more for his defensive abilities as a center thus far, do you see Hughes tapping into his offensive potential?
A: I actually think Jack is one of the most skilled offensive players in the country, despite maybe not putting up unbelievable numbers. Jack was battling through injuries and playing in almost every situation as the youngest player in college hockey, playing through things that would leave many players out of the lineup. I think because of his IQ, he realized to help the team the most he had to be sound defensively because it was hard to produce, but he was still having huge impacts in our wins by being a great 200-foot player on the nights he didn’t score.
Q: Fondest moment of playing alongside Hughes last year?
A: Playing with Jack was awesome, although there were points in the year where, although we always seemed to have great chemistry in practice and in the summer, we couldn’t find the back of the net. His first goal was an awesome memory and also a game against Merrimack in the early spring. It was our first game playing together in a while and we finally seemed to be finding each other, and it was a great win for our team.
Q: What makes him such a great teammate?
A: He always is in a good mood. For a kid in his draft year to be the youngest player in college hockey is not an easy task, and he showed up every day with a smile on his face. Against Providence, our last game before Christmas break, Riley (his brother), I, and about four or five other forwards were out with injuries and he (Hughes) got hurt the night before. He battled through an injury to get two goals and an assist in a game that Riley and I both told him that it might be a bad idea to play in, but he insisted he didn’t want to let the team down and he wanted to play. That really showed a lot to everyone in the room about the type of kid he is.
Q: You’ll likely be playing against Jack for many years, what do you think will make him so hard to play against?
A: His vision and his hands. He’s so hard to read on what he’s going to do next because he has the ability to do so many things with the puck. He toe dragged me once his freshman year of high school, I’ll never hear the end of that one.
Q: How does Jack compare to other two-way forwards in the NCAA?
A: I think Jack will be one of the best offensively dynamic players in our league this coming season, and one of the best young two-way centers that can dominate offensively in the NCAA. I think he is one of the best players in the 2022 NHL Draft.
Q: What should LA Kings fans know about what kind of player they are getting in Jack Hughes?
A: They are getting a player who loves the game of hockey and will do anything it takes to win. A great kid from a hockey family who is ultra-competitive. He’ll be a fan favorite.
A special thank you to Sam for taking the time to speak with me.