PLYMOUTH, Mich. — Luke Hughes grew up in a hockey family, working in mini-sticks basement battles like siblings across the world.
That's where the similarities between the Hughes brothers and most other family competitions end.
Luke watched his brothers Quinn and Jack play at USA Hockey's National Team Development Program in Plymouth before the older Hughes duo made the NHL.
While he kept an eye on them, he was working to make his own NHL dream a reality. And those hopes are close to coming true.
"We're just so competitive, all three of us. It's not really anything big. It's just normal for us, just talking hockey, doing normal things, like normal people," Hughes said in an interview with WXYZ at USA Hockey Arena last winter.
Quinn was the No. 7 overall pick in the 2018 draft. Jack was the No. 1 overall pick a year later.
Luke is skyrocketing up draft boards, recently receiving the top spot in The Athletic's rankings for the 2021 class.
"He is a 6-foot-2 elite-skating defenseman with offensive ability, which is a highly appealing toolkit for an NHL projection," Corey Pronman wrote on Feb. 9. Since the time we interviewed Hughes, he grew two inches.
Back in 2018, Quinn and Jack each told WXYZ their thoughts on who would win a mini-sticks battle in the basement. The brothers each bet on themselves.
Brought into the conversation, Luke made it clear who would win and who did.
"I think it would be me for sure," he said. "I had a lot of fire back then, so I don't know about that. Every once in a while, they'd throw me in net and I'd have to play goalie."
Hughes is now calling his own shots on the ice in Plymouth, standing tall at 6-foot-2 on the NTDP's defensive unit.
The Hughes family has made its mark on the USA Hockey program, calling Michigan home throughout the time in Plymouth. Luke was in Canada for much of the time his brothers were playing in Michigan, but made the move here to suit up for the NTDP.
"It's really a great spot. Going from Toronto to here, it's a lot less crazy," he said. "Just being here, it's awesome. I guess it's home."
The Red Wings again are at the bottom of the NHL's standings, putting themselves in position to land one of the Hughes brothers. They passed on Quinn before losing the lottery and watching Jack go ahead of their spot in 2019. Depending on when the draft happens, and how the lottery rules could change, this might finally be the time for Detroit to land one of the Hughes brothers.
That would really put a new meaning to Michigan as a home for the family.
Luke Hughes is working for his own NHL dream. His older brothers Quinn and Jack are already in the league, but Luke believes he could still beat them in basement hockey.— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) February 11, 2021
We talked with the @USAHockeyNTDP standout. The @umichhockey commit is rocketing up draft boards. pic.twitter.com/oPpsTL7zRw