The fifth episode of our Road to the Draft podcast is a supersized episode with Ken Daneyko joining host Matt Loughlin as our special guest co-host. Loughlin and Daneyko were joined by Bryce Salvador to talk Hughes vs. Kakko, swap draft stories and talk about how he became a Devil.
The second segment of the episode takes us on location at the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo, New York and Amanda Stein and Chris Wescott talk to NHL.com's Mike Morreale. Mike also gives his thoughts on Hughes vs. Kakko and also takes a closer look at the pivotal second round where the Devils have three selections.
Daneyko talked about how ecstatic he was when the Devils won the draft lottery, noting that adding another core player is a big step towards long-term fortunes for the Devils.
"I'm a big believer in what Ray and Coach Hynes have preached here and their philosophy. You're looking for long-term success," Daneyko began. "This league is tough. It's tough to win and tough to even just get in the playoffs. But if you have a foundation and core players - that takes time and you need patience - you can be a perennial playoff team. Because you know that if you get into the playoffs, anything can happen."
Both Daneyko and Salvador also talked about their respective draft years and both were very different. Daneyko was a first-round selection -- in the very first draft in New Jersey Devils history -- but did not attend while Salvador was a sixth-rounder by a team that never signed him in Tampa Bay.
"It didn't matter what round I went in, just that a team drafted me. It was surreal," said Salvador. "I didn't know what the next step was. You're just playing hockey and maybe that materializes into something and maybe it doesn't."
The next step for Salvador was that after the two-year window of rights that the Lightning had for him expired, they elected to not sign him.
"They told me after two years just to go to school. The NHL wasn't going to work out," he said. "I look back at that and think that it was a defining moment for me."
Video: PODCAST | Bryce Salvador's TB draft story
Salvador had a decision then, where he could have attended University on a junior hockey scholarship or he could play another year as an overager. He bet on himself and did the later.
"When you're drafted by an expansion team, they don't bring you to camp, you think you're good, you were drafted but they say 'kid, we're not going to sign you.' At that point in my career, it's a gut check. I put a lot of onus on being a good student. I was scholastic player of the year in the WHL when I was 19 but when you believe in yourself as well, I had a year as an overage and knew the team was going to be good.
"Next thing you knew, it was February and the St. Louis Blues signed me. Had I not had that obstacle, I wouldn't have been a good enough player or had the mindset to realize I needed to change my game in order to make it to the NHL."
Video: PODCAST | Daneyko compares Hughes to Kane
For Daneyko, he didn't attend the draft because he didn't expect to go until later on.
"Back in '82, only first rounders went to the draft. They had to believe you were going to be a first rounder. My agent at the time didn't think I was going in the first round and I didn't think I was going in the first round. I was ranked late second, third round," Daneyko stated.
"I got a call early morning, draft was in Montreal. I'm in Edmonton, two hours earlier. My mother wakes me up. She says 'Kenny, take this call'" I said 'it's too early, it's one of my friends playing a prank.'"
After eventually picking up the phone and talking to Marshall Johnston, he was told that he was being acquired by the still-unnamed New Jersey squad which just moved east from Colorado.
"I get the call and I said to my mother, 'where's New Jersey?'"
But for Daneyko, it eventually became a place that was home and where he would win three Stanley Cups.
Video: PODCAST | Mike Morreale on the 2nd round
In the other half of our episode, Amanda Stein and Chris Wescott talked at length with NHL.com's Mike Morreale about the draft, its prospects and the Scouting Combine which is where the interview took place on location.
"Speaking with Jack Hughes and what he's about, the pressure that's been on this kid for two years plus and how he goes about his business dealing with the media, general managers and scouts, he always gives you the time of day and is an exceptional hockey player," said Morreale.
But beyond Hughes, Morreale talked at length about the second round and beyond where this draft class is truly expected to shine. With three second-round picks, that's of great interest to Devils fans.
"Second-round players could be first-round players in other years," he stated.