For the second time in three years, the New Jersey Devils won the NHL Draft Lottery and will select first overall in the 2019 NHL Draft.
The Devils had the third-best odds (11.5 percent) to land the No.1 overall pick and beat out the Ottawa Senators and Los Angeles Kings for the right to draft Jack Hughes. If they end up selecting Hughes, it will be the fifth time in six drafts that the Devils selected a centre in the first round:
- – 2014—No.30 Pick—John Quenneville
- – 2015—No.6 Pick—Pavel Zacha
- – 2016—No.12 Pick—Michael McLeod
- – 2017—No.1 Pick—Nico Hischier
With the No.1 Overall Pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, the New Jersey Devils select…
Jack Hughes — C — United States 🇺🇸
Just over a month ago, Hughes was an absolute lock to go No.1 overall, but Kaapo Kakko had a terrific showing at the World Championships and made this decision a little more difficult for General Manager Ray Shero.
Hughes is an elite skater with top-end playmaking ability, who has had his game compared to Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane. Hughes had a record-setting season with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program. Hughes had 48 points (12G / 36A) in 24 USHL games, 112 points (34G / 78A) in 50 games as the captain of the U.S. National U18 Team and a combined 27 points (9G / 18A) in 18 games while representing the United States at the U18 World Juniors, U20 World Juniors and World Championships.
Hughes is expected to make the immediate jump to the NHL, where he could be their first line centre with Taylor Hall and/or Kyle Palmieri on his wings. This will allow Hischier to take on a smaller role as their second line centre and Travis Zajac to be a shutdown, third line centre. Suddenly, the Devils have some of the best centre depth in the NHL, with three NHL centres under the age of 22—Zacha (22), Hischier (20) and Hughes (18).
I do think Hughes projects to be an impact player in the NHL, a star center who can substantially help a franchise. The elements of his game – his skating, his skill, his hockey sense and his compete level – will translate immediately. He’s not a perfect player, and I wouldn’t realistically expect him to be one of the top 10 players in the NHL, but he could become a top player for a team and be an important part of turning a bad team around. — Corey Pronman (The Athletic)
Jack is an elite skater who plays the game at top speed both with and without the puck, he sees the ice tremendously well and finds open space to create scoring chances. He has a complete package of skills that suggest he will be a franchise NHL player and game-changer. — Dan Marr (Director of Central Scouting)
The left-shot center is an elite skater who can think the game at top speed and has a knack for finding open areas on the ice. Hughes, who skates with Devils forward Taylor Hall in Toronto during the offseason, is the most electrifying player available at the draft. He has great hands, feet and an insatiable appetite to succeed. He’ll be a franchise-defining player. — Mike G. Morreale (NHL.com)
- #1 — HockeyProspect.com
- #1 — Future Considerations
- #1 — ISS Hockey
- #1 — NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)
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