A lot of the focus right now is on what the New Jersey Devils will do with the second-overall pick in the NHL Draft. They could go after Juraj Slafkovsky, that is unless the Montreal Canadiens take him. Then the Devils would likely take Shane Wright. Or, they could trade the pick. That one is starting to seem unlikely, but things could get crazy before the draft.
However, the Devils still need to make some picks after that top player. The Devils have never had a second-round pick in the Tom Fitzgerald era. This year, they are scheduled to do it for the first time. Some might say the lack of a second-round pick caused Fitzgerald to reach at the end of the first round in 2020 and 2021. Chase Stillman and Shakir Mukhamadullin were both expected to be available deep into the second round. Since the Devils didn’t have a second-round pick, they reached. This season, there will be no reaching necessary.
So, who might the Devils target in the second round this year? It’s hard to find a precedent since Fitz has never had a pick here, but we can find the right pieces based on how the Devils prioritize talent.
1. Jack Hughes – Northeastern University
This one seems a little too on the nose, right? People have been circling Jack Hughes for the entire year because of his name only. He has no relation to our Jack Hughes, but he is the son of Montreal Canadiens general manager Ken Hughes. He grew up in a hockey family, and he’s been around the sport for years. It likely won’t help the kid getting mistaken for the former first-overall pick when he is drafted by the same team, but that’s not something the Devils will really worry about.
The center had a weird freshman season, starting the year as a likely mid-to-late first-round pick. Now, he’s considered a late first rounder at best, but it seems like the second round is his destination. Maybe it’s because of his hype backfiring on him. It’s possible that he was looking for a little more growth.
The Canadiens might end up taking Hughes with their own second-round pick. However, it’s possible Ken Hughes avoids nepotism entirely. This would give the Devils a chance to take a player who has the talent of a top prospect but the output of a lower player. 16 points in this past season doesn’t build confidence, but it does show he was on a phenomenal Northeastern team that won Hockey East. He will see his role build with Northeastern, and his ceiling will only grow.