Cassius “Bear” Hughes: 2021 Annual Review And Forecast

Photo: Fargo Force

Next up in our annual prospect review and forecast series is Cassius “Bear” Hughes, center for the Fargo Force in the USHL. (You can access all of our Capitals Prospect Reports and player analysis on our “Prospects” page here.)

VITALS

Bear Hughes, a 6’-1”, 165 lb. center, was drafted by the Capitals in the fifth round (#148 overall) of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Hughes, 20, has yet to sign with the Capitals.

CAREER

While Hughes’ real name is Cassius, he’s been called “Bear” for most of his life. Once his mother called his elementary school to say that “Cassius will not be in today” and Bear asked her, “Who’s Cassius?”.

Hughes was the sixth child in a family of 10 children, including seven boys and three girls, with the last five children all being boys. His older brother, Rance, played junior hockey with the Spokane Braves and the St. Louis Bandits of the North American Hockey League (NAHL).

During the summer of 2018, Hughes accepted an invitation to the Everett Silvertips development camp and had a good camp, and was with the team until the final scrimmage. However, Hughes did not have the body of work that drafted prospects tend to have and was not on the Silvertips’ top prospect list, and thus, returned to Post Falls. He played for the Spokane Chiefs for the 2018-19 season and had 41 goals and 25 assists in 46 games.

Manny Viveiros, the Chiefs’ head coach, said he was instantly impressed by Hughes. “He’s an incredible kid. He’s very humble, kind, good sense of humor, got his feet on the ground. He knows what he wants. He kind of just fell off the tree and right into our laps, so to speak. He has nothing but impressed us.”

In 2019-20, Hughes scored 16 goals and recorded 31 assists in 61 games played, and was selected as the team’s Rookie of the Year. Prior to that, he played for the Spokane Braves of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) in 2018-19.

Hughes found action in the USHL for the 2020-21 season for the Fargo Force. For the season, Hughes had nine goals and 15 assists in 35 games played for a 0.69 points per game average. He recorded 67 shots for a 13.4% shooting efficiency.

2020-21 MONTH-BY-MONTH RECAP AND TREND ANALYSIS

The following is a compilation of our month-by-month prospect reports for Bear Hughes for the 2020-21 season. (You can find all of our monthly prospect reports on our “Prospects” page in the top menu).

JANUARY

Hughes arrived in Fargo on Monday, January 11 and joined the Force while the Spokane Chiefs (WHL) remain in a holding pattern due to COVID-19. The Capitals’ fifth-round draft pick from the 2020 draft played in eight games for the Force of the USHL; in those eight contests he had a goal and four assists.

He would add a pair of assists on January 31 against the Stars.

Since joining the Force in early January, Hughes has played his majority of games at second-line center for the Force.

Hughe’s game-by-game breakdown:

TRENDING:SAME

FEBRUARY

For the month of February, Hughes played in nine games where he scored four goals and recorded two assists for six points.

He scored goals in three consecutive games – Feb 13 against Omaha, Feb 19 against Sioux City Muskateers, and Feb 20 against Sioux City.

His overall statistics for the season, which started in January, are that he played in 16 games, with four goals and five assists.

TRENDING: SAME

MARCH

Hughes continues to center the second line for the Fargo Force. As the points weren’t coming for Hughes, he also experienced some struggles in the small details of his game that he is normally on top of.

He is seeing gradual improvement and getting into a rhythm. With fewer chances in games, Hughes has adjusted and tried to finish the opportunities that came his way. He says experiencing that has been good. One area he has been focusing on is improving his work at the dot.

“Ryan O’Reilly is known for being strong on faceoffs,” says Hughes. “I’m figuring out little tricks here and there and it’s a skill that takes time to get better at.”

As for his offensive production in the month of March, Hughes recorded three goals and seven assists in 10 games.

Goal on March 5.

Goal on March 26.

Goal on March 27.

Force head coach Pierre-Paul Lamoureux spoke about Hughes on March 13:

“Bear is currently playing his best hockey and we only see it improving,” says Lamoureaux. “He’s playing a big role with our team five-on-five, as well as playing a large role on our power-play and penalty-kill units. He’s playing fast and physically. His hard work is starting to pay off and he is getting rewarded,” said Lamoureux.

Lamoureux said Hughes ability to adapt and impact the game up and down the lineup is very valuable. As a coach, he can play in every situation. Since he’s settled in and has adjusted to the speed and new team, he is executing offensively.

“Bear has a tremendous amount of upside,” says Lamoureaux. “Bear provides a humble veteran presence to our group. He is a soft-spoken young man, however, he is confident and well thought out. When he speaks, his teammates listen.”

For the season, Hughes has eight goals and 12 assists in 27 games played.

TRENDING: UP

APRIL

Hughes continues to center the second line for the Fargo Force. For the month of April Hughes had one goal and three assists in eight games played. His lone goal came on April 15 against against Waterloo.

April 15:

For the season, Hughes has nine goals and 15 assists in 35 games played. He’s recorded 67 shots for a 13.4% shooting percentage.

The Fargo Force began the Clark Cup playoffs in April 30.

TRENDING: SAME

MAY

Hughes and the Fargo Force played eight playoff games in the month of May. Hughes had one goal and one assist in those eight playoff games.

For the season, Hughes had 9 goals and 15 assists in 35 games played for a .69 points per game average. He recorded 67 shots for a 13.4% shooting efficiency.

TRENDING: SAME

PLAYER FORECAST

For most of his life, Bear played hockey on teams based on the Coeur d’Alene rink that his dad, Vincent, managed. In the summer, he would pass pucks to Tyler Johnson, who would go on to play for the Tampa Bay Lightning. He spoke about Bear Hughes, saying, “He’s a rink rat. He’s a guy that’s not really gonna come out and talk, but what I really liked about working with him was, if there was anything I saw or wanted him to do, I could tell him, and he was a guy who listened to you and was very coachable. He’s a guy that once you say for him to do something, he’ll be doing it on his own time.”

It has yet to be confirmed where Hughes will play this fall, but its expected he will return to the WHL for one more season before possibly taking a crack at Hershey the following season.

By Jon Sorensen

Further Reading
Bear Hughes Took Unusual Path to Success in Western Hockey League
Capitals Draft Bear Hughes
Elite Prospects Profile of Bear Hughes
Spokane Chiefs Select Bear Hughes as Rookie of the Year

2020-2021 Prospect Reviews And Forecasts
Alex Alexeyev
Kody Clark
Martin Fehervary
Tobias Geisser
Shane Gersich
Axel Jonsson-Fjallby
Hendrix Lapierre
Brett Leason
Connor McMichael
Bobby Nardella
Garrett Pilon
Brian Pinho
Aliaksei Protas
Damien Riat
Joe Snively
Riley Sutter
Bogdan Trineyev

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His passion for the Caps has grown over the decades, which has included time as a season ticket holder, social media and community organizer, and most recently led to the founding of NoVa Caps in 2014. Jon earned a Bachelor's of Science in Civil Engineering at Old Dominion University, and is a Systems Engineer during intermissions, which has been instrumental in supporting his Capitals habit.
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