Friday night the New Jersey Devils will get the opportunity to take a major step forward by drafting first overall in the 2019 NHL entry level draft. The reason this year’s number one spot is so coveted is largely due to the talented American Center Jack Hughes. Who if you would like to know more about you can read this article (https://thoughtsfromthebench.com/2019/03/20/hope-for-hughes/)
Hughes is widely being regarded as the number one overall player in this draft. He is a center with elite puck moving abilities and vision that seems too good for his age. He is ticketed to be NHL ready and a guy who can come into a rebuilding franchise and be a top line center.
However the New Jersey Devils don’t really need a number rone center. In fact they have a pretty good one in twenty year old Nico Hischier. Hischier was second on the team in points last season with 17 goals, 30 assists and 47 points. He averages 18 minutes a night and is clicking at 45% in the faceoff circle. Not bad for a guy in just his second NHL season.
The Devils also have Taylor Hall one season removed from a Hart Trophy and with one year left on his contract. The former Edmonton Oiler first overall pick was slotted along side Hischier for the better part of two years. Seeing Hall reach numbers that everyone thought were possible, but he was never able to produce in Edmonton. The pair have become one of the best in the NHL.
So at this point your saying well then draft Hughes have him play with Kyle Palmieri and you’re good to go. Sure that may work. In Fact it is most likely what the Devils will do. However with the recent success of teams like Boston, Colorado, Montreal, and Calgray one would be tempted to draft another winger.
Kaapo Kakko is a six foot two Finnish right winger who for all intensive purposes put the NHL on notice this season. After a dominating performance at World Juniors where his Finland team won the Gold Medal he went to Worlds and where he helped Finland win another Gold. Coincidence I think not. Kakko is an NHL ready winger. He has been compared to Alexander Ovechkin and Ryan O’Reilly. For those of you keeping track at home that is the past two Conn Smythe winners.
He has also proven he can play against NHL level talent leading the Finnish team with six goals in ten games. The kid is ready for the show, and he just happens to be the missing piece to what could be the most dominant line in the NHL.
If New Jersey were to pass on Hughes and draft Kakko instead he would slot in on the right wing of Hall and Hischier. His natural position alongside two players playing their natural positions.
Wait what?!?!?! Talented players playing their natural positions together can produce at a high level? What an insane concept.
Look at what Colorado achieved this season with one great line. Look at what Boston achieved with one good line. Hell look at Chicgao’s three cups that were centered around one prolific line. Being able to break up their studs only to reunite them in a time of crisis. That is literally how Chicago won their second cup. By reuniting Kane and Toews.
Look Jack Hughes is going to be a great player, and any franchise would be lucky to have him. But maybe just maybe New Jersey would be better off with a young talented Finnish winger instead.