The Devils selected center Jack Hughes with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft on Friday night. The American teenager beat out Finnish winger Kaapo Kakko for the top spot after a year of jockeying between the top prospects.
Hughes entered this year’s draft as one of the most well-regarded prospects of the last decade. He broke records in the U.S. Hockey Development Program, led Team USA to a silver medal at the 2019 World Juniors and played for the senior national team at this year’s IIHF World Championships.
NHL Central Scouting consistently ranked Hughes as the top North American skater over the last year.
In fact, the only real competition for this year’s No. 1 pick was Kaapo, a tenacious winger with an incredible combination of size, speed and scoring ability. The Rangers, who pick second, will surely be thrilled with their consolation prize for being runner-up in the lottery.
There’s little doubt that in Hughes, the Devils are getting a potential franchise cornerstone who projects to play in the NHL next season. He’ll provide a strong foundation with another recent No. 1 pick, Nico Hischier, who’s shown flashes of a high-level game in his first two pro seasons.