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Devils hope to land a potential “generational talent” in 2019 NHL Draft

Devils speak about Hughes and Kakko

When the New Jersey Devils won the NHL Draft Lottery on April 9, immediate buzz grew over their two potential first picks: Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko.

Hughes has caught attention for his high-scoring with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program. He scored 228 career points during his tenure with the program, breaking the record of 189 points previously set by Clayton Keller.

Kakko has broken a record in his home country’s league, Liiga, for the most goals by a U18 player. Additionally, during just the second 2019 IIHF World Championship game, Kakko scored a hat-trick which brought Finland to beat Slovakia 4-2.

In an interview posted on YouTube, Devils Assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald compared the two players, describing Kakko as “an NHL package.” He also noted that while Hughes is not as physically strong as Kakko, he has other strengths.

Fitzgerald was not the only Devils representative who spoke positively about the two players. In a podcast from the team’s website, coach John Hynes called Hughes’ work in the U18’s “exceptional” and described Kakko as a “well-rounded player”.

“It’s kind of unique that we have the No. 1 pick because you have the opportunity to study both guys and you get to make the pick,” the coach said, “to see those guys play head-to-head in the same type of tournament against men, I don’t think you could ask for a better evaluation setting.”

Regardless of who the Devils pick, it is clear that the two players are projected to have a lasting impact on the NHL, with hockey fans referring to them as “generational talents”.

“Both players will transform our organization and the one across the river’s organization,” said Fitzgerald, “I don’t think it’s going to be a bad choice either way.”

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