You have probably heard by now that for the second time in three years, the New Jersey Devils have won the NHL Draft Lottery and will be picking first overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
Just typing that up gave me the chills. The top three picks in this year’s draft belong to (in order): the New Jersey Devils, The New York Rangers, and the Chicago Blackhawks.
The top two prospects in this draft are Jack Hughes (projected to go first) and Kaapo Kakko (projected to go second). Jack Hughes is more than likely going to be coming to New Jersey unless GM Ray Shero decides to totally disrupt the hockey world and pick Kakko. Even if that happened, the Devils would be in a much better spot. Both players are elite and are going to have great NHL careers. Their stats speak for themselves:
“Hughes (5-foot-10, 170 pounds), No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting’s midterm list of North American skaters, leads the NTDP with 86 points (23 goals, 63 assists) in 41 games. The 17-year-old holds NTDP records for assists (139) and points (202) in 101 games over two seasons.”
“Kakko (6-foot-2, 194), No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting’s midterm list of International skaters, scored 22 goals in 45 games, a record for a first-time draft-eligible player in Liiga, passing Aleksander Barkov (21 goals in 53 games) for Tappara in 2012-13. Kakko’s 0.84 points per game rank fourth on the single-season list of under-18 players in Liiga, behind Mikael Granlund (2009-10, 0.93), Barkov (2012-13, 0.91) and Jari Torkki (1982-83, 0.88).”
Devils fans were going crazy last night with a mixture of excitement, joy, relief, and hope for the upcoming season. Here are some reactions:
Adam (@P0ly95): “I’m extremely excited for this first overall pick. It speeds up the process of rebuilding so much faster and adds to our lack of talent that Shero said we need to address. I guess no “respecting” the game and tanking does pay off sometimes.”
Perrin (@PMD_91): “When the Devils were announced they made it to the top 3, I was pumped and said let’s go! When they flipped the card over for the number 1 selection and I saw it was the Devils, I jumped up in the air and screamed LETS GOOOO. I am so pumped for this offseason now.”
Ben (@BenAscone): “Reaction to winning the draft lottery: AHHHHH!!! I can’t believe it! I’m so excited, I truthfully can’t put it into words. This is so big for us going forward. The future certainly is very bright!”
Derek (@Derek_Nielsen13): “I freaked out so hard, is that an acceptable answer?”
Emily (@Hey_itsEM & @Sports_Minded1): “Didn’t think it was going to be us. When my family and I went to dinner we joked that we were celebrating the Devils #1 pick … my brother is a Ranger fan so when we were watching at home he was in his room and we were supportive of each other but the next 2 months will be fresh in this household debating on who each team will get! Dad and I kept saying that if its Hughes, he’s already a frame-worthy guy so we’d have the best of doing him for a signing haha.”
Tom (@MarchianoTom): “Finishing first or second in the lottery, you can’t go wrong. The benefit to picking first overall is now we get to choose between Kaapo Kakko and Jack Hughes. At 9pm last night Devils, Twitter absolutely exploded in celebration, fans posting pictures of Hughes and saying they’re going out to buy Hughes jerseys. I’m all about it, I’m super excited I can’t wait to see what the offseason has in store for us. But….what if we don’t draft Hughes what if we pick Kakko? Still no problem, I’m personally a Kakko fan. My bigger worry is the offseason. This upcoming 1st overall pick is one small piece to our puzzle. Our goaltending was pretty solid after the trade deadline but all of that could change just as easy, our defense is still pretty weak and there are still holes that need to be filled on offense. So having the 1st overall pick is wonderful, it’s all about what you build around that player. Edmonton is a perfect example, they have star talent with McDavid and Draisaitl, with no supporting cast the team doesn’t really perform. Unpopular opinion, Devils don’t make some big signings this offseason they don’t make the playoffs next year….”
Erik (@NJHUGHES43): “I think this helps our team in so many ways, meaning Hall will likely resign, it should attract other free agents here too, maybe even some better college free agents like Adam Fox, players are going to see how the Devils are really on the rise now. They are going to want to play with guys like Hall, Nico, Hughes/Kakko, Ty Smith and so on. I went absolutely nuts when I saw we won.”
The Devils really needed this lottery win for a number of reasons. One of the biggest reasons is now Taylor Hall has a much bigger incentive to re-sign with the Devils. GM Ray Shero has all the tools to build a strong, playoff contention team: good prospects, cap room, a number one draft pick so now it’s time for him to do what he does so well. This is going to be a thrilling off-season!
Stats: nhl.com; eliteprospects.com Cover Photo: nhl.com