Could the Rangers end up with Jack Hughes?
The New York Rangers had luck on their side during the NHL Draft Lottery, getting the second overall pick after finishing with the sixth best odds at number one. Moving up those four spots allows the Blueshirts to get a generational talent in either Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko, however, they will be at the mercy of the team with the first pick in the draft, their rivals in New Jersey. Although Hughes looked like the consensus top prospect earlier in the season, could New York snag him at number two?
Let’s look back at the last time the Devils had the first overall pick. It was the 2017 draft and early projections had North American Nolan Patrick going first overall for a long time. Later in the season, however, European Nico Hischier snuck up and made it a close race, causing discussions over which one is better. New Jersey went with Hischier that year, leaving Patrick to their division rival, the Philadelphia Flyers.
I see a very similar situation this time around. Hughes has been this draft’s top prospect since the first time the class was ranked. He looked like the far and away number one overall pick. Kakko burst onto the scene at the World Juniors last year for Finland, as European players often do. Currently, both Hughes and Kakko are participating in the World Championships alongside current NHLers. While Hughes has struggled in three games without a point, Kakko leads the tournament in goals with five and trails only Nikita Kucherov (six) in points. He is making a great case for himself as the first overall pick and the Devils should be watching.
I believe the Devils will take Kakko first overall. He has shown the ability to lead a team like Finland at many different levels, whether it be at the junior level or above, and his goal scoring ability has been highlighted, something New Jersey lacked last season. He’ll be able to slide in next to Hischier and/or star Taylor Hall and give the Devils a big body as well. The Rangers brass will be scrambling on stage to give Jack Hughes his jersey.