The seventh episode of our Road to the Draft podcast is also our final episode before the draft itself, so it's fitting that our guest is Devils Devils Executive Vice President, General Manager/Alternate Governor Ray Shero
Shero was asked to compare this year's draft to 2017, when the Devils also had the first-overall pick.
"With Philadelphia moving up in 2017, Philly and Dallas moved up to two and three and we moved up, too. Now this year it's the same with the Rangers and Blackhawks with a big climb and LA moving from two to five," Shero began. "It's great for fans with the rival. There's nothing wrong with a rival."
He was asked if it changes anything knowing that whichever player he passes on will end up on the roster of the Devils' rival across the Hudson.
"What's it matter? We're going to get a good player, they're going to get a good player. That's the way we look at it. One thing I mentioned last week, the Devils-Rangers rivalry should be great. Back in the day teams would play 8-10 times a year and now we only play four. Hopefully we play a lot more, in the playoffs against each other. But it's good for the rivalry," he added. "The whole idea of a rival being right behind you when you're picking one, is there added pressure on us? It doesn't really matter. And that's the way I looked at it, two years ago."
Shero was also asked to compare the top two prospects in this year's draft, Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko.
"It's a lot different this year than '17 because both Kakko and Hughes ended up playing in the World Championships.
"They're a lot different in terms of how they play. Kakko is a big, strong kid who has great sense around the net. It almost reminds you of Jagr. He's got great hands. And Kakko's played center, too. Everyone says it's wing versus center but Jack Hughes played left wing some at the World Championships."
Video: PODCAST | Shero on Kakko/Hughes
Shero continued with his thoughts on Hughes.
"He's got incredible hockey sense. The agility, the vision on the ice. It just makes people on his team better. I wish I had one and two, that would be good. They're that good."
The Devils GM was asked about fan sentiments leaning towards Hughes.
"I wasn't aware of that," Shero chuckled. "Nico was playing in the Quebec League for one year and Nolan Patrick was well known by playing in the Western Hockey League. Hughes has been on the radar as a potential top pick for a U.S. born kid and now you have Kaapo Kakko played in the WHL or the Quebec League and they could see him (it would be a different story)."
Video: PODCAST | Shero on Trades
"The big benefactors will be the Devils and the Rangers and the other will be the League, bringing kids like this in."
Shero also talked about trades, Taylor Hall and the second day of the draft, where the Devils have so many key picks.
"It's so much quicker. Everybody has who's got what picks. The first day is four hours and it's easy to keep track of whose picks got traded. Then the second day starts and they start announcing the trades, it's pick number 39 for 42 and 71. Okay, you have to go to Central Registry up front to find out who's got what pick."
"It's a 5:00 start Pacific Time. If you're Eastern Time Zone and you have a 7:00 start and don't get out of there until 11:30 well now you have a quick turnaround the next day. You're meeting for another hour and a half or two hours because now you're redoing your list because guys have gone. And you're talking to some GMs that night."
Video: PODCAST | Shero on Depth of Draft