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NHL Draft

Hughes has Hall excited after Devils get No. 1 pick

Forward tweets Draft Lottery win is 'great start to the summer'

by Mike Zeisberger / Staff Writer

TORONTO -- Jack Hughes spends time in the summer skating with New Jersey Devils forward Taylor Hall. The two might find themselves doing so year-round after the 2019 NHL Draft.

The decision whether to take Hughes, a speedy forward who is projected to be the No. 1 pick, now rests with the Devils, who won the 2019 NHL Draft Lottery on Tuesday.

The Devils, who entered with the third-best odds at 11.5 percent, moved up two spots to land the top pick for the second time in three years. In 2017, New Jersey had an 8.5 percent chance at winning, moved up four spots and selected center Nico Hischier, the first Switzerland-born player to be drafted No. 1.

New Jersey (31-41-10) finished 29th in the NHL standings with 72 points this season.


[RELATED: Devils earn No. 1 pick in Draft Lottery | Rangers, Blackhawks climb Draft order]


"I said yesterday that whoever won the lottery would have the chance to draft a very gifted player like Jack Hughes," Devils general manager Ray Shero said. "A lot can happen between now and the draft and there are a lot of things to sort out, but I do stand by that statement. The potential for whoever won is there."

Hughes was at the lottery, which was held at CBC Headquarters.

"If it happens, it would be an honor and a privilege to play for the New Jersey Devils," Hughes said.

Hughes, a 17-year-old with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program Under-18 team, was No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American skaters in January. He led the NTDP with 86 points (23 goals, 63 assists) in 41 games this season.

"Everybody can see that his skating is incredible," Shero said. "He says he needs to get stronger, and we know that. But his skating, his instincts, he's selfless out on the ice, he's happy for his teammates, he's a team player, a center iceman. ... He's just a talent and has so much upside. And his instincts are just so remarkable.

"I said at the end of the season that we needed more talent, simple as that. This certainly helps to that end."

Video: Draft Lottery: Devils win top pick for 2019 NHL Draft

Hall immediately took to Twitter after the winning card showed a Devils logo. 

"… very excited to welcome our future #1 overall pick to Jersey! Great start to the summer for the Devils," Hall tweeted via his verified account @hallsy09.

Hall also pointed out that five of the teams he's been on -- the 2011 Edmonton Oilers (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins), 2012 Oilers (Nail Yakupov), 2015 Oilers (Connor McDavid), 2017 Devils (Hischier) and 2019 Devils -- have picked No. 1.

"They talk about [Wayne] Gretzky's 92 goals (in a season) or [Darryl] Sittler's 10 points in one game as records that may never be broken. But winning 5 draft lotteries in your first 9 years in the league? In 2 different draft lottery eras, no less. That is a record that will stand forever," Hall tweeted.

Hall was the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NHL Draft by the Oilers.

Shero laughed at the notion that Hall, who could become a free agent after next season, is the Devils' good luck charm when it comes to the draft lottery.

"I was asked at the general manager's meetings if I would have traded Taylor at the Trade Deadline," Shero said. "I said there was no way. We needed his karma for this year's lottery."

It seemed to work, judging by the results.

The New York Rangers moved up four spots from No. 6 and will pick No. 2. The Chicago Blackhawks jumped nine places from No. 12 and will pick No. 3.

Shero and Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton were on the same flight to Toronto on Tuesday morning. When it was delayed, Shero received a text from Gorton, who was sitting a couple of rows in front of him.

"He wanted to know if we needed a rope to start the engines," Shero said with a chuckle. "He wanted to know if it was a good or bad omen for the two of us."

It was obviously good.

"I'm just happy for our fans," Shero said. "This is a great day for them and for our organization."

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