Vancouver- After winning the Draft lottery for the second time in three years the New Jersey Devils will have another opportunity to add to their offensive depth. The team will have a tough decision in which way to go with the first overall selection. Do they choose Jack Hughes, who’s ranked first by eliteprospects.com or Kaapo Kakko who’s ranked second? The Devils chose Nico Hischier first overall at the 2017 NHL Draft. Facing another huge decision, New Jersey now has to decide between Hughes and Kakko.
Both Hughes and Kakko have tremendous skill sets but, both of them are two completely different players. Hughes stands at 5’10” with a 170-pound frame which is 15 pounds heavier than Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau at the time he was drafted. Although Hughes is small for an NHL player, his skating ability, vison and hand-eye coordination helps make up for his size. Kakko on the other hand is 6’2” and 190 pounds. His size and strength make him tough to play against, although his hands and vison are nothing like Hughes. Despite his size, the Devils may be leaning towards Hughes.
Hughes trains with current New Jersey forward Taylor Hall, which might help him resign with the Devils. Also the chemistry they have off the ice should translate to games.
Hughes is an elite center which every team needs in order to be competitive. The left shot forward finished with 34 goals and 78 assists in just 50 games for the U.S. National U18 Team. Hughes average 2.24 points per game during this past season. Hughes also set a new record for the most total points scored in the history of the Under-18 men’s hockey championship, passing Alex Ovechkin who previously held the record at 31.
Kakko is one of the top right wingers in this year’s draft. Kakko recently played in the finish elite league. The left shot right winger scored 22 goals and had 16 assists in 45 games for TPS Turku. After a tremendous performance in the 2019 World Hockey Championships, Kakko showed he can play with the best players in the world. Kakkos efforts helped his team defeat Team Canada.
As the draft is set to begin in Vancouver, New Jersey find themselves making another franchise changing choice. All that’s left for the fans now is to wait and see what General Manager Ray Shero does.