The Scotland international was linked with a move to the Seagulls' Championship rivals Leeds earlier this summer but has now attracted interest from the tier above.
Hughton is looking to bolster his attacking options before the transfer window closes on Friday and has identified Mackail-Smith as a target.
Brighton are thought to be willing to offload the 28-year-old despite paying a club record ?2.5million to sign him from Peterborough last summer.
It is thought Norwich tried to capture the frontman while he was with the Posh but missed out to the south coast side.
Should he make the move to Carrow Road it would mark his first taste of Premier League football, having previously stated his desire to play in the top-flight.
Mackail-Smith scored 10 goals for the Seagulls last season and has started the current campaign brightly, netting a brace in last weekend's 5-1 demolition of Barnsley.