Devils Win Draft Lottery, Hughes Sweepstakes
The New Jersey Devils had a particularly rough year following their playoff appearance in 2018. They finished with one of the worst records in the league, ahead of only the Ottawa Senators. The Senators would have had a top pick if they had not traded it away for Matt Duchene. In a word, it was a BAD trade for Ottawa. The Sens gave away multiple prospects, a first and a third-round pick for Matt Duchene who is no longer with the team.
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) November 6, 2017
Back to the Devils, their offense struggled mightily as former Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall’s season ended with a knee injury fairly early in the season. The defense looked about as bad as can be, and the goaltending was not good enough to bail the defense out. In fact, Cory Schneider went 22 decisions without winning a game. He was winless from December 27th, 2017 to February 15th, 2019. In that time, a snail walked a marathon through peanut butter.
The tides may be turning for the struggling Devils, though. They have won the NHL Draft Lottery and with that the opportunity to pick a franchise-changing superstar, Jack Hughes.
They talk about Gretzky’s 92 goals or Sittler’s 10 pts in one game as records that may never be broken. But winning 5 draft lotteries in your first 9 years in the league? In 2 different draft lottery eras, no less. That is a record that will stand forever.
— Taylor Hall (@hallsy09) April 10, 2019
Hughes has spent the last 2 years playing for the United States National Team Development Program. In his first year, he finished with 116 points in 60 games, just one point shy of current Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews. In a shortened season due to injury this year, he put up 92 points in 43 games. Hughes has blinding speed and incredible vision. Even more impressive are the tactical decisions he is able to make on the ice.
A scouting report for The Draft Analyst claimed “His sixth sense allows him to sniff out trouble before it’s within striking distance while simultaneously identifying weaknesses in the opponent’s scheme to stop him.” That is a very impressive skill and reminds me of only Wayne Gretzky, Sidney Crosby, and Connor McDavid. Similar to those just named, Hughes will carry one of the best skills you can bring as a hockey player, to make those around you better. Similar to Sidney Crosby turning Chris Kunitz and Jake Guentzel into 30 plus goal scorers. Hughes will be able to work well with Kyle Palmieri, Jesper Bratt, former first overall pick Nico Hischier and of course Taylor Hall. That will be a scary combo. Good luck to the rest of the league.