Dale Money | June 21st, 2019
Tonight at Rogers Arena in Vancouver will be host to the NHL Entry draft, with the New Jersey Devils getting the first overall selection. Now it was only two years ago, the Devils selected highly touted Nico Hischier. The expectation is that Jack Hughes will go to the Devils, although Kaapo Kakko has certainly made the debate interesting. Thanks to a fantastic showing at the IIHF tournament.
With the Hudson River rivals Devils and Rangers going 1-2 respectively, these two players could indeed set the course for some great clashes for years to come. As Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin have gotten older, the NHL will be looking for a new pair of players to carry on the story in the Eastern Conference.
Hughes a 5-foot-11, 170 pounds, left handing shooting center that spent the last pair of seasons with the US Development Program. Just last year with NDTP he put up 112 points. And currently holds the clubs records in assists and points overall. Internationally he wasn’t too shabby either, he broke Alex Ovechkin’s career scoring mark at the IIHF U-18 World Championships. Helping lead the US to a Bronze medal.
There is no doubt Hughes is simply head and shoulders above the rest of the draft in most respects. The best skater in this class by a good margin, and in a league that’s getting more about speed, it’s really something you can’t put a price tag on. In playmaking, scoring, hockey sense, and creativity you won’t find many players that can match him.
The fact he can make plays at top speed is what makes him lethal. Drawing plenty of comparisons to Hawks superstar Patrick Kane. His x-ray type vision, allows him to find small holes in the defense that many others are either not able or unwilling to find. Has sniper like accuracy along with a rapid release. As he gets older and stronger expect that shot to become a lot more dangerous. Even though he isn’t the biggest player, you’ll be hard-pressed to knock him off the puck.
I’ve gone back and forth on this debate recently, to be honest. Hughes has been the consensus number one selection for a good long while, he is the better all-around offensive talent. As stated previously his skating prowess leaves every other prospect in the dust, with the Devils wanting to play a much quicker uptempo style of game. It does seem like a perfect fit. With Taylor Hall and Hischier already their top two centers at the moment, adding Hughes would give them the best trio of centers arguably in the NHL.
He has also become quite familiar with both Ray Shero and Goaltender Cory Schneider through US Hockey. Kakko has gained a lot of steam recently, true enough. But really the choice seems pretty clear for the Devils. If they need to let him stay for a bit longer with the Development program, I don’t see that being a real issue. You are taking Hughes, with the expectations of getting yourself a franchise player for the future.
Check out our other NHL Draft Profiles: Alex Turcotte| Victor Soderstrom|Dylan Cozens|Bowen Byram|Ryan Suzuki|Kaapo Kakko
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