October 5, 2022

Cassius “Bear” Hughes is coming off a strong season with Spokane of the Western Hockey League, and the Washington Capitals prospect is looking to continue his development in his first year as a pro.

The 21-year-old center had team-highs in goals (24), assists (43) and points (67) in 64 games last season, including six points (three goals, three assists) in a 6-1 win against Tri. -City on March 12.

He was named a captain in January and was selected to the WHL US All-Star Second Team.

“I’ve been pretty fortunate with all the opportunity I’ve been given in Spokane,” Hughes said. “I had some responsibility, but it was also an honor. I had some really good teammates and teammates who were both friends and good hockey players.”

Hughes was selected by the Capitals in the fifth round (No. 148) in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. In May, he signed a one-year contract with Hershey of the American Hockey League.

“Like many players from his draft year, Burr played fewer games than a typical prospect would because of shortened seasons due to COVID,” said Chris Patrick, Capitals assistant general manager, player personnel. “Given that, the best thing for his development is to play and get more experience now at the pro level. We’ll want to put him in situations where he can play decent minutes and continue to develop his game against pro players. “

A native of Post Falls, Idaho, Hughes was able to take advantage of a local youth hockey program with which he had a strong connection.

“My dad is very involved in youth hockey there. That’s kind of how I got into it,” said Hughes, whose older brother had played. “Before that, there was no hockey in North Idaho at all. It kind of brought the program up and now there’s a couple of different programs where I’m from.”

After scoring 47 points (16 goals, 31 assists) in 61 games for Spokane in 2019-20, Hughes scored 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in 35 games for Fargo of the United Hockey League in 2020-21.

In July, Hughes participated in Capitals development camp, which included a game at Capital One Arena. He’s back in Post Falls looking to add some size to his 6-foot-1, 171-pound frame.

“I’ve got decent height, but I could use 10, 15 pounds of muscle,” Hughes said. “This summer, that’s been my main goal on the ice, just training hard and eating as much as I can, trying to put on some weight.”

Hughes will return to Capitals training camp in the fall and is poised to earn a spot on Hershey’s roster.

“No one is certain in this team, you have to make it,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you signed a contract, you still have to show up and prove you belong there.”

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