American Jack Hughes taken 1st overall by New Jersey Devils
Centre put up a record 154 assists and 228 points over 2 seasons with U.S. development team
Jack Hughes was selected first overall by the New Jersey Devils in the NHL draft on Friday night.
The flashy centre put up a record 154 assists and 228 points over two seasons with the under-18 U.S. National Team Development Program.
The Devils had the third-best odds of winning the draft lottery back in April, but jumped two spots for the right to draft Hughes.
"Obviously going first overall was a dream of mine," Hughes said. "But the Devils are a great organization, a great team, lots of good players, a pretty rich history, too. It's a spot that really wanted me, I knew that from the get go.
"I'm just excited to play with the organization now."
WATCH | Jack Hughes goes No. 1 to New Jersey:
The 18-year-old joins a team that already boasts fellow former No. 1 picks Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier up front. New Jersey made the playoffs for the first time in five seasons in 2017-18, but is coming off a last-place finish in the Metropolitan Division at 31-41-10.
Hughes said he didn't really feel nervous until just before his name was called.
"I'm a pretty calm kid. The only time I really got nervous was when Gary (Bettman) was talking up there for two minutes or so. That's the only time I got nervous," he said. "It's been a hectic day."
The New York Rangers then stepped up to the podium to snag Finnish winger Kaapo Kakko with the second selection. Kakko, also 18, scored 22 goals — a record for a draft-eligible prospect — and added 16 assists in his country's top division in 2018-19.
WATCH | Rangers take Finland's Kaako Kappo 2nd:
Dylan Cozens was selected seventh overall by the Buffalo Sabres, making him the first Yukon product to be picked in the opening round. The six-foot-three centre from Whitehorse spent the last two full seasons playing for the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the Western Hockey League.
WATCH | Yukon's Dylan Cozens makes history:
Hughes was born in Orlando, Fla., but spent his formative years in the Toronto area when his father, Jim, worked for the Maple Leafs.
The younger Hughes, who registered 112 points in 50 games with the USNTDP in 2018-19, is the eighth American-born player to go No. 1 and the first since Toronto took Auston Matthews in 2016.
He's also just the second USNTDP player to be drafted No. 1 directly out of the program after the St. Louis Blues took defenceman Erik Johnson first overall in 2006.
The five-foot-10, 170-pound playmaker is the younger brother of Vancouver Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes, who was selected seventh last June in Dallas.
The 228 points Hughes scored over his two seasons with the USNTDP smashed Clayton Keller's previous mark of 189 (71 goals, 118 assists).
Kakko, meanwhile, heads to the Big Apple with quite a resume. He's already won three gold medals internationally, including the 2019 world junior hockey championship in Vancouver and the recent men's worlds in Slovakia.
The six-foot-two, 194-pound Turku native's 22 goals this past season was one better than the 21 that Aleksander Barkov scored in 2012-13 before he was picked second overall by the Florida Panthers.
Kakko, who is said to model his game after Matthews, buried the winning goal for Finland at the world juniors before scoring six times to lead his country at the men's worlds last month.
His selection at No. 2 marks the fourth time in the last four years a Finn has gone in the top three, following on the heels of Patrik Laine (second to Winnipeg in 2016), Miro Heiskanen (third to Dallas in 2017) and Jesperi Kotkaniemi (third to Montreal in 2018).
Kirby Dach was the first Canadian off the draft board at Rogers Arena, with Chicago taking the centre at No. 3. The 18 year old from Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., had 25 goals and 48 assists with the Western Hockey League's Saskatoon Blades last season.
"I'm at a loss for words for what just happened," said Dach. "But it's awesome to be picked by the Blackhawks."
Next up was Colorado, which picked Bowen Byram fourth. The six-foot, 193-pound defenceman had 26 goals, 45 assists and a plus-33 rating for the WHL's Vancouver Giants last season.
The selection originally belonged to Ottawa, but was acquired by the Avalanche as part of the blockbuster Matt Duchene trade with the Senators back in November 2017.
"Everyone knew what was happening the first two picks. After that nobody knew what was going on, but then when (Colorado) got up there I had a really good feeling about them from the start," said Byram.
"When they called my name it was pretty cool."
Oilers select D Broberg
The Edmonton Oilers took defenceman Philip Broberg with the eighth pick. The selection was the first player move made by newly-hired general manager Ken Holland. Broberg played last season with AIK in Sweden, scoring twice and adding seven assists.
The 17-year-old was named the best defenceman at the U18 world championship.
WATCH | Edmonton selects Philip Broberg:
Canucks grab RW Podkolzin
The Vancouver Canucks picked Russian forward Vasily Podkolzin 10th overall.
The 17-year-old played part of last season for St. Petersburg of the KHL and was the No. 2 European skater on the NHL Central Scouting prospect list. Podkolzin, six-foot-one 196 pounds, captained Russia at the under-18 world championships. He had one goal and four points in seven games to help his country win silver.
WATCH | Vancouver takes Vasily Podkolzin:
Canadiens take Cole Caufield
The Montreal Canadiens took American Cole Caufield 15th overall.
The five-foot-seven right-winger from Wisconsin had 72 goals and 100 points in 64 games with the U.S. under-18 team last season.
WATCH | Cole Caufield goes 15th to Habs:
Senators grab D Thomson
The Ottawa Senators selected defenceman Lassi Thomson with the 19th pick.
Thomson, six-foot 186 pounds, played his first season in North America in 2018-19 with the Western Hockey League's Kelowna Rockets.
The 18-year-old produced 17 goals and 41 points in 63 games with the Rockets, while also winning gold at the 2019 world junior hockey championship with Finland.
WATCH | Senators select Lassi Thomson:
Jets choose D Heinola
The Winnipeg Jets selected Finnish defenceman Ville Heinola with the 20th overall pick.
The 18-year-old played 34 games with Lukko Rauma in Finland last season, scoring two goals and adding 12 assists. He added a goal and an assist over seven playoff games.
WATCH | Jets select Ville Heinola:
Flames take F Pellettier
The Calgary Flames selected forward Jakob Pelletier with the 26th overall pick.
Pelletier, five-foot-nine 165 pounds, is coming off his second season with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Moncton Wildcats.
The 18-year-old winger from Quebec City produced 39 goals and 89 points in 65 games with the Wildcats in 2018-19 after producing a point per game in his rookie campaign.
He has played internationally for Canada, suiting up in both the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and the under-18 world championship.
WATCH | Flames take Jakob Pelletier: