Spokane Chiefs forward Bear Hughes was selected by the Washington Capitals in the fifth round (148th overall) of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft on Wednesday.
“I just feel so grateful right now and very excited,” said Hughes. “The Capitals are a great team and from what I hear are a very exceptional organization. I’m excited to get started.”
Hughes, who grew up just outside Spokane in Post Falls, Idaho, had a rookie campaign to remember. He scored 16 goals and added 31 assists for 47 points in 61 games, finishing the season ranked 7th among all WHL rookies in points, 9th in goals, tied for 4th in assists and 5th in shots on goal.
His most noteworthy stretch was the month of November, when he piled up 12 points (5G-7A) and a plus-12 rating in 12 games to earn recognition from the league as the WHL Rookie of the Month. From Oct. 19 to Dec. 14, Hughes scored nine goals and 15 assists for 22 points including a season-best 6-game point streak from Oct. 19 to Nov. 3 and a career-best three-point night (3A) on Dec. 14 at Seattle.
The 6-foot-1 forward recorded points in six of seven games in late January and early February (2G-7A) as the Chiefs began to roll toward their stellar late-season finish. Hughes finished the season with 12 multi-point efforts.
“Bear has taken great strides in his development over the last couple years and has shown lots of upside,” said Chiefs’ general manager Scott Carter.
Unrated by the NHL’s Central Scouting Service headed into the season, the 6-foot-1 two-way forward jumped onto scouts’ radar, entering the draft ranked 150th among North American skaters.
Hughes was originally put on Spokane’s radar by former Chief and current Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tyler Johnson, who noticed him at Frontier Ice Arena in Post Falls during offseason skates. Prior to being listed, Hughes played primarily house league hockey in the Spokane area.
He is the third Chief to be selected by the Capitals, joining former stars Jeff Lucky (2001; 4th round) and Jevon Desautels (2002; 4th round).