2023 IIHF World Junior Championship

2023 World Juniors: Luke Hughes Named Captain Of Team USA

2023 World Juniors: Luke Hughes Named Captain Of Team USA

Devils prospect Luke Hughes will wear the 'C' for Team USA, while Sean Behrens and Red Savage have been named alternate captains.

Dec 17, 2022 by Chris Peters
2023 World Juniors: Luke Hughes Named Captain Of Team USA

Luke Hughes, the No. 4 overall pick of the New Jersey Devils in the 2021 NHL Draft, has been named captain of the U.S. National Junior Team for the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship. The University of Michigan sophomore defenseman will be joined in the U.S. leadership group by defenseman Sean Behrens (Colorado Avalanche) and forward Red Savage (Detroit Red Wings), who were named alternate captains.

All three players are returnees from last summer's rescheduled World Junior Championship with Hughes playing a significant role as the No. 1 defenseman on that squad. He will be looked to as USA's most important player as their top defenseman who can also contribute offensively.

In addition to his World Junior experience, Hughes also was part of the U.S. Men's National Team at the 2022 IIHF World Men's Championship, playing with and against NHL players. In last year's WJC, Hughes was among USA's top scorers with six points in five games. He was injured during USA's quarterfinal loss to Czechia, but gutted it out to play the entire game despite being limited. 

At men's worlds, he had four points over 10 games and scored a game-winning goal in overtime against Austria. The U.S. finished fourth in that tournament.

This season, Hughes has been a key player for the University of Michigan, just as he was last year. He has 18 points through 20 games, making an impact at both ends of the ice. The younger brother of NHL stars Quinn and Jack Hughes of the Vancouver Canucks and New Jersey Devils, respectively, Luke has managed to make his own name with two sensational NCAA seasons and his international hockey exploits. 

The 6-foot-2 blueliner is a tremendously gifted skater who can escape pressure with ease and jumps into plays to create offense. He's solid in defense with a good stick and a bit more physical edge than his older brothers can showcase due to his size. Expect the youngest Hughes boy to play an outsized role on this U.S. roster, logging major minutes and playing in all situations.

As for the rest of the leadership group, Behrens is in his second season with the University of Denver. As a freshman, he helped the Pioneers win the NCAA national championship, playing solid minutes and providing a two-way presence. A strong puck-mover with good mobility, Behrens has eight points through 16 games this season. 

At the last WJC, he appeared in just one game. He'll be a much bigger part of USA's roster this time around. Additionally, he has experience wearing a letter in international play as he was an alternate captain for the U.S. at the 2021 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.

Savage was also part of last year's team. The Miami University sophomore appeared in five games, finishing with two goals and an assist. He has 10 points in 15 games with the RedHawks this season. A tenacious two-way center, the last time Savage wore a letter for Team USA, he captained the U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team at the 2021 U18 Worlds.

All three captains are alumni of USA Hockey's National Team Development Program as well.

Team USA wrapped up its pre-tournament camp at USA Hockey Arena Saturday. The team next will travel to Atlantic Canada where it will play two pre-tournament games, one against Finland on Dec. 19 and another against Sweden on Dec. 21. The Americans open World Junior play Dec. 26 against Latvia in Moncton, New Brunswick.