The New Jersey Devils have one of the most important NHL Drafts in franchise history this Friday. It all starts with the number-one overall pick.
The New Jersey Devils go into Friday with 10 picks in the NHL Draft. After a major selloff at the trade deadline, the Devils will choose seven players before pick 100. It could be a night where the Devils completely reform their prospect pool from high upside, middle of the pack to legitimately one of the better pools in the league.
There’s a ton of talent in this draft, from major superstars at the top, ridiculous upside from picks 10 to 50, and then some really interesting players beyond pick 100. We took time to go through as many prospects as possible, trying to pick who might fall, and then going forth with what the kids call a mock draft.
We’re not going to waste any more time. Let’s get into the obvious pick.
Round 1, Pick 1
Take Jack Hughes. The New Jersey Devils shouldn’t overthink this pick. Jack Hughes is the pick. We’re written dozens of articles on this guy since the Devils drafted him. It’s because this kid is special. We don’t want to use the “generational” distinction because that’s way overused, but he is a lock to be really good now and in the future.
He scored 160 points between two U.S. leagues, not including his international numbers. That was in 74 games. Those are ridiculous numbers.
He played well when actually given a chance during the IIHF World Championships. He won the player of the game award in the United States quarterfinal loss to the Russians. There were flashes of greatness with players he’s never played with in his life.
He’s Miles Wood with hands. Seriously. He could compete with Wood and Taylor Hall in a foot race (skate race?) today. That’s better than NHL-level speed, that’s elite-level speed. He’s so quick, and he knows what to do with the puck. There are one too many no-look passes, but hopefully he learns quickly that they don’t work as well in the NHL.
Speaking of learning, his hockey IQ is off the charts. He processes the play in his head as fast as some of the best we’ve seen play on the Devils. He puts his head up, and he can predict where the defenseman is going to go and what he’s going to try and do.
Kaapo Kakko is going to be a great player, unfortunately for us since he’s going to the New York Rangers, but he’s the low upside, high floor player here. His worst possible scenario is better than Hughes worst possible scenario, but Hughes best possible scenario is light years better than Kakko’s. It’s both Hall of Fame upside, but Hughes has an outside chance to one day be a top-two player in this league. Hughes is the pick hands down.