The New Jersey Devils were awarded the first pick in the 2019 NHL draft on Tuesday night.
By winning the draft lottery in Toronto, they land the right to take U.S.-born center Jack Hughes, who's considered a generational talent.
It was only two years ago when the ping pong balls came up in favor of New Jersey for the first time in club history. The Devils selected Nico Hischier with the first overall pick in 2017. Hischier was a catalyst for the Devils 2017-18 playoff season and the team is hoping another high draft pick can get them back to the postseason.
The Devils secured the third-best odds (11.5 percent) to land the first overall pick with just 72 points this season and a 31-41-10 record.
Hughes averages two points a game with the United States National Development Team Program. Kaapo Kakko, a winger out of Finland, is also considered a top prospect.
Jack Hughes is a member of the U.S. National Under-18 Team, based in Plymouth. (Photo: Rena Laverty/USA Hockey's NTDP)
GENERATIONAL TALENT: Who is Jack Hughes?
The Colorado Avalanche, using the Ottawa Senators’ pick, had the best odds to land the top pick at 18.5 percent. The Los Angeles Kings and Ilya Kovalchuk had a 13.5 percent chance.
The 2019 NHL draft will take place at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on June 21-22. New Jersey will be one of the biggest players on the stage. Ray Shero, who was in attendance in Toronto on Tuesday night, has 10 draft picks in this year’s draft, including six in the first three rounds. They also have eight draft picks in 2020 and seven in 2021.
This draft class is considered one of the deepest in years with first-round talent projected to go in the second round. The Devils are will almost assuredly improve the team immediately but with so many picks Shero likely will do some wheeling and dealing in the trade market.
Devils star Taylor Hall was outspoken about the lack of talent on the current New Jersey roster. With only one more year on his contract, the Devils can start working toward an extension this summer, but Hall said he wants to see what the team does to better the club through drafts, trades and free agency.
The rest of the first-round order for the lottery teams: 2. New York Rangers. 3. Chicago Blackhawks. 4. Avalanche. 5. Kings. 6. Detroit Red Wings. 7. Buffalo Sabres. 8. Edmonton Oilers. 9. Anaheim Ducks. 10. Vancouver Canucks. 11. Philadelphia Flyers. 12. Minnesota Wild. 13. Florida Panthers. 14. Arizona Coyotes. 15. Montreal Canadiens.
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