Wisconsin hockey recruiting: Alberta center Cameron Hughes commits to Badgers

Emily Van Ee Photography

The Badgers landed a big-time target on Tuesday when Edmonton center Cameron Hughes gave his verbal commitment to Wisconsin.

Class

Position

Shoots

Height

Weight

2014 or '15

Center

Left

5'11

160

Team

Hometown

DOB

Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL)

Edmonton, Alberta

10/9/1996

The Wisconsin men's hockey team locked up a key piece to its future Tuesday when it received a verbal commitment from Spruce Grove Saints center Cameron Hughes.

Hughes visited Madison in mid-December with his father and came away from the trip raving about the energy the Badgers' coaching staff showed him.

"The passion the coaches showed and the passion they had towards to their team -- it gave me the best opportunity."

A 17-year-old center from Edmonton, Alberta, Hughes was widely regarded as the top uncommitted forward in Western Canada. Early reports consider the elite-skating center a potential top-two-round draft selection in the 2015 NHL Draft.

Hughes singled out the recently renovated facilities at the Kohl Center and LaBahn Arena as additional selling points for Wisconsin.

"The facilities are world class," Hughes said. "Everything they have is second to none. I was thrilled when I saw that."

Hughes also visited Penn State, Michigan State and Ohio State, and noted that playing in the Big Ten conference was an atmosphere he was looking forward to.

Through 44 games this season for Spruce Grove in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, Hughes has notched 17 goals and 32 assists for 44 points to lead the Saints in scoring, despite being one of the youngest players on the club.

Hughes, who came across as a highly intelligent 17-year-old in a phone interview Tuesday night, noted that he relies on his hockey sense and skating ability to be successful.

"I pride myself on being a good skater," Hughes said. "Not being the biggest guy, I try to use my smarts and hockey IQ to make simple plays to help my team be successful."

Earlier this fall, Hughes represented Canada-West at the World Junior A Challenge, winning a bronze medal in the process. Hughes was one of just five 1996-born players on the roster, but finished second in points with one goal and four assists in the four-game tournament.

Hughes' timeline to Madison is still to be determined. After the season, Hughes said he will sit down with the Wisconsin coaching staff to make a decision whether it's best for him to play another season of junior hockey or jump into Big Ten action.

While the Badgers could use another big-time forward next season, there is a reasonable school of thought given Hughes' youth that spending another year playing for Spruce Grove could help in his long-term development.

Either way, Wisconsin is thrilled to have him in the fold.

For more hockey coverage, follow Andy on Twitter --
You can also reach Andy via e-mail (AndyJohnsonB5Q@gmail.com)

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