Welcome to New Jersey, Jack Hughes.
The American forward was the No. 1 pick of the 2019 NHL Draft by the Devils at Rogers Arena on Friday.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) June 22, 2019
Hughes had long been projected to go first overall in 2019, but Finnish prospect and projected No.2 pick Kaapo Kakko stepped up his case with a late surge at the end of the season. Kakko ended up being taken second overall by the Rangers, while center Kirby Dach was taken third overall by the Blackhawks.
Hughes has been playing for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team where he put up 34 goals and 112 points in 50 games last season. Hughes recently surpassed Russian superstar Alex Ovechkin for the most points ever at the IIHF World Under-18 Championship. The 17-year-old center finished with 32 points (14 goals, 18 assists) in 14 games over two years at the U-18s.
“Elite skating, hockey sense and skill. Hughes has most attributes you look for in a star player. A very agile player with incredible speed. He is also equipped with fast hands and his puck handling along with his skating allows him to regularly beat players one-on-one” – Elite Prospects
Hughes is joining a New Jersey team that is only expected to get better heading into 2019-20. The team is led up front by Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier, while secondary scorer Kyle Palmieri had one of the best breakout seasons in the league last year. On defense, Will Butcher is on the rise and Sami Vatanen and Damon Severson are solid two-way presences. Cory Schneider has struggled in goal, but 22-year-old MacKenzie Blackwood is one of the more promising goaltender prospects and could step up if Schneider doesn’t turn in a rebound season. The Devils are also expected to make a splash in the upcoming free agency period.
The Devils will be a fun team to watch in the coming years and many hockey fans will be tuning in just to watch one of the most exciting prospects in hockey play in the show.