The 51-year-old Montreal native replaces Marc Bergevin, who was fired Nov. 28 following the Canadiens’ poor start.
Hughes has been an agent and partner of Quebec-based firm Quartexx Management since 2016.
Before joining the Canadiens as their 18th GM, Hughes represented more than 20 players under NHL contracts. His past clients included Patrice Bergeron, Kristopher Letang, Anthony Beauvillier and Darnell Nurse.
Hughes was previously affiliated with MFive Sports, which merged with Quartexx in 2016.
“We are very excited to add Kent Hughes to our organization. Kent is highly respected in the hockey world, having built an excellent reputation as an NHL player agent for over 25 jare nou,” Canadiens owner Geoff Molson said in a statement.
Hughes joins executive vice president of hockey operations Jeff Gorton, who was hired shortly after Bergevin’s dismissal, in Montreal’s front office.
Molson previously said he envisions Gorton and Montreal’s new GM running hockey operations in complementary roles.
The Canadiens entered their game Tuesday night at Dallas in last place in the NHL overall standings with a 7-25-5 opneem.