Devils Take Jack Hughes With Top Pick In NHL Draft

KOSICE, SLOVAKIA - MAY 15: Jack Hughes of United States skates against Great Britain during the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Slovakia group A game between United States and Great Britain at Steel Arena on May 15, 2019 in Kosice, Slovakia. (Phot
Photo credit Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images
By WFAN Sports Radio 101.9 FM/66AM New York

When the moment finally arrived, the New Jersey Devils followed script and drafted top prospect Jack Hughes with the first overall pick of the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver.

Hughes is a 5-foot-10 American center who has been in the crosshairs of Devils fans since they landed the first pick in early April. He's the prize after the ending of a long season of struggle in Newark. 

It’s official. Jack Hughes is a New Jersey Devil. -- pic.twitter.com/iLNwBTK0eV

— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) June 22, 2019

Hughes impressed with Team USA over the spring, as he played in the World Junior Championship, the IIHF U18 Men’s World Championship and the Men’s World Championship. Hughes tallied 24 points in the 18 games he played over those three events. He is also now the all-time leading scorer at the IIHF Under-18 tournament, with 32 goals across the two tournaments he played.

The Orlando, Florida native played with USA Hockey’s U-18 National Development Team, which competes against USHL teams, international teams and some college teams. Hughes performed immaculately there as well, racking up 112 points (34 G, 78 A) in 50 games.

"I'm so pumped up to be a Devil," said Hughes after being drafted. "So many great players on the Devils. To be a part of that team, to be a part of that group, I'm so fired up."

Jack HughesUSA TODAY Images

Hughes’ quick first step and strong skating ability have made him desirable since the second he became draft eligible. His tremendous vision sets him apart from his peers at the lower levels, which has shown in the massive assist numbers he puts up. At times, these extraordinary skills lead Hughes to try and do too much with the puck, but he should be a quick learner and should pick up the flow of the Devils quickly.

While his talents make him NHL ready, Hughes still has some growing to do. He is a young player that lacks the same upper body strength that many pros rely on to get into the dirty areas on the ice. He will benefit tremendously from being around a locker room filled with veterans like Andy Greene and Travis Zajac, and from being in an NHL weight room.

Hughes gives Devils fans a talent to be truly excited about after a terrible 2018/19 season.