Put Up or Shut Up Time for the Devils
By Patrick Hoffman
It is not very often that an NHL team is wins the NHL Draft Lottery two times in four years. Well, except if you are the Edmonton Oilers, but there appears to be a new team that is trying to take over their throne.
That team would be the New Jersey Devils. After winning the Draft Lottery in 2017 and taking Nico Hischier with the first overall pick, the Devils won it again this year and appear to be in a good spot to keep moving their franchise forward.
If you've been following prospects at all or if you are someone who follows everything that is NHL Entry Draft-related, then you probably know who the team is going to take with number one overall pick. That player will more than likely be U.S. National Development Team forward Jack Hughes.
Here is what Emily Sadder of Sportsnet.ca said about Hughes in her article on Sportsnet.ca:
"The 17-year-old excited scouts with his shifty playmaking, quickness, and elite vision on the ice."
For a team that struggled to put the puck in the net this season. getting a guy like Hughes into their system could end up paying huge dividends for this franchise. For starters, he contributed a ton of offense with the U.S. National Development team.
In two seasons with the program, Hughes had 202 points. That makes him the all-time leading scorer in the program's history.
Secondly, he apparently has a ton of skill and speed. In today's NHL, having those two things is absolutely essential when it comes to creating offense, which is something this team clearly needs.
In a piece in The Athletic (subscription required) by hockey scribe Corey Pronman, one scout told him the following
"His pace is elite. He can do everything fast."
In another article on Hughes, this one by Mike Morreale of NHL.com, Mike showed what NHL's Central Scouting said about him:
"He's a unique player. He has an unbelievable motor, great speed, but a stride not too dissimilar from Jack Eichel in that he generates speed with a lot of motion and a good core. His ability to be elusive in traffic is similar to what Connor McDavid does; he's not afraid to challenge that opening that others may not be able to get through because he sees beyond with the opportunities there."
When someone is comparing a prospect to Oilers' superstar Connor McDavid, you know that you have someone special on your hands. In fact, the way scouts are talking about him, he might be ready to play in the NHL, which would be huge for the Devils if that ends up being the case.
Lastly, it appears that https://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/new-jersey-devils-win-2019-nhl-draft-lottery/ . They skate together in the summers so if they end up doing that again this year, may be Hall can start mentoring him to help him prepare for life as an NHLer.
This is once again an exciting time for the Devils and their fans. Getting another number one overall pick is a big thing for any franchise, but the fact that the Devils get it for the second time in four years is going to put a bit of pressure of team general manager Ray Shero to move this team forward sooner rather than later.
As I mentioned earlier, the Oilers dominated draft lottery's for several seasons. One would think that after winning several, they would be a consistent playoff contender.
That has not been the case at all for the Oilers. The Oilers are a team that continues miss the playoffs and one that is not sure what direction it is going in.
Shero needs to do everything he possibly can to make sure that this does not happen with his franchise. He needs to make this team relevant and make them a team that will be a playoff contender year in and year out.
It's time for the Devils to step up and make sure these number one overall picks end up meaning something. If they cannot do that, they could end up going the wrong way just like the Oilers did.
Patrick covers the NHL for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave.
He has previously covered the league for WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.