It’s a special day for our franchise — Devils General Manager Ray Shero
That it is.
“Jack can be a star,” says Shero. “He thinks the game at such a high level. His skating, his instincts and his will to win all are special.”
It's official: the Devils have chosen Jack Hughes as the first pick overall in the 2019 NHL Draft. Hear reaction from Bill Pidto, Bryce Salvador and Joe Micheletti.
Bible of the sport, The Hockey News — based on Hughes’ potential — suggests that he eventually develop into a latter-day Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel, Auston Matthews or Jack Eichel.
“Hughes projects to be a dynamic, elite producer who can drive a championship team,” is how The Hockey News puts it.
A reliable scout offers another rave: “A lot of nights, Hughes looks like a smaller version of Connor McDavid.”
What many believed would be as inevitable as the sun rising in the East, happened at the NHL Entry Draft on Friday night in Vancouver. Hughes was the popular favorite, holding that spot over Number Two pick, Kaapo Kakko, to the very end.
Thus, the Orlando, Florida native who honed his hockey skills to sharpness both in Canada and with Team USA’s National Team Development Program (NDTP) automatically becomes the face of the franchise.
Jack Hughes speaks to the media after being selected first overall by the Devils and shares his thoughts on what he'll add to the franchise.
Because Jumping Jack had led all candidates for the top spot for so long, his value to the Devils is being acclaimed by those who have viewed him for so long.
“We’ve watched him for a long time,” adds Shero. “We’re going to be patient with him, but he’s stepping into a really good situation.”
Like the Devils’ scouting corps, NHL experts have been focusing on Hughes for years and the acclaim has extended from coast to coast, from continent to continent.
“Jack’s upside is enormous,” reports a scout who has tracked him for years. “He’s an elite skater, an elite thinker and an elite skill player. He has the ability to process and execute at high speeds.”
A dynamic playmaking center, Jack Hughes has been touted to be one of the first picks in the 2019 NHL Draft for quite some time. Learn more about the 18-year-old!
If there’s been one “question” about Hughes’ ability to fulfill his copious notices, it’s been his 5-10, 168-pound fuselage. However, The Hockey News sagely notes that size has become less relevant in today’s brand of firewagon hockey.
“The NHL now has a firm place for the undersized ultra-skilled player,” The Hockey News reports in his Hughes’ X-Ray. “And the fact is that Jack does not shy away from physical contact.”
The throng of Devils fans, who attended the massive team draft party, loved the result.
“I’m extremely excited,” glowed Pat Clancy of Scotch Plains, New Jersey. “Hughes is the center we’ve been needing. He’s gonna fill out and bring us back.”
Attending a rowdy Devils Draft Party, Steve Cangialosi and Ken Daneyko discuss New Jersey's selection of Jack Hughes with the first pick overall and how it will change the franchise going forward.
Author Tim Rappleye, who wrote the definitive story of New Jersey’s legendary hockey hero, Hobie Baker, put the 2019 Entry Draft race in this perspective:
“Hughes was the horse that led to the wire and the Devils’ fan base wanted the big Lottery prize.”
Bottom Line: The Devils are back and Shero got his man — sure to be hero, Jack Hughes!