The Devils got their man.
In an unsurprising move, New Jersey took United States National Team Development Program center Jack Hughes with the first-overall pick in the NHL Draft on Friday.
Hughes has been the top prospect in the draft before the season even started.
When his brother, Quinn, was taken No. 7 overall in 2018, Hughes became the focus. And there is good reason for this.
Hughes, 18, scored 34 goals and added 78 assists for the NTDP this year.
He broke the NTPD’s career scoring record and averaged more than two points per game this season. He was widely seen as a surefire No. 1 pick and should be a cornerstone for any team in the middle for years to come.
The only question about the top selection was whether the Devils would go rogue and take Finland winger Kaapo Kakko instead. He jumped up draft boards over the second half of the season and really came into the spotlight when he scored five goals in the first two games of the IIHF World Championships in May.
Kakko helped a relatively star-powerless Finland squad to a championship and had some people asking if he could overtake Hughes as the No. 1 prospect.
In fact, NHL.com actually did rank him above Hughes. And in all honesty, the Devils couldn’t have gone wrong by taking either young man.
Ultimately they selected Hughes and likely will have a great player for years to come as will the Rangers if, and when, they take Kakko at No. 2.
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