How likely are the Devils to make Jack Hughes a New York Ranger
The New Jersey Devils won the draft lottery and the New York Rangers did too. Let’s make one thing clear though, Jack Hughes is the best player in this draft and it was pretty cut and dry until Kaapo Kakko started to surge up the rankings.
Two Franchise Players
Jack Hughes has been opening eyes for 3 years now. His name has been mentioned as the next NHL superstar since Connor McDavid. Yes, he is that good. Still, he is on the small side (5’10”, 179 lbs) and young at 17. His birthday is May 14th making him just 18 years and 38 days old on draft day. Throw in the mix that he has only played with the U.S. National Development Team and you wonder if he can make the leap to the NHL next season.
That is why Kaapo Kakko, already 18 and playing in the top Finnish league Liiga since he was 17 is so intriguing. Not only is this kid big at 6’2″ and over 190 lbs, he is considered ready to join an NHL lineup next season.
Kakko has been drawing heavy attention over the last year with his dominant play. As a 17 year old player he scored 22 goals and 38 points in 45 games… against men. Those are big numbers at any age, but what really impresses is the fact he does it all. The kid can set up plays, finish them, body check, control the boards, basically name it and he does it.
So would the NJ Devils really pass on Hughes for the more NHL ready Kakko?
The Answer is: Not Likely
I will not say it’ll never happen, but it is highly unlikely. You see, Jack Hughes is still tearing it up at this very moment. In the U18 tournament, the U.S. fell to Russia but Hughes set offensive records in the process.
Losing in the semifinals, Hughes tallied (get ready for this) 8 goals and 9 assists in just 6 games. That is the most by any American in this tournament. Still, there’s one more game and he has a chance to break more records. Per Chris Ryan at NJ.com:
“Hughes is still within striking distance of two overall records entering the team’s final game on Sunday. He is four points shy of matching the 21-point record for a single tournament, set by Nikita Kucherov in 2011. He also has 29 points over the past two tournaments, putting him two points shy of the all-time U18 record of 31 points, held by Alex Ovechkin.”
The Bottom Line
The Devils are taking Jack Hughes. They can’t ignore three years of hype backed by a record breaking tournament just because Kakko is NHL ready. This is the player everyone has been hoping to win the lottery for since 2016.
And for what it’s worth, Jack Hughes retweeted the video of NJ winning the draft. You think he doesn’t already know where he is headed?
When it is all said and done, NJ will take Hughes and the Rangers will draft Kakko. More importantly, the Hudson River Rivalry will be renewed and these teams will have their own version of the Crosby vs. Ovechkin saga for years to come.