Jack Hughes, projected to be the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, said he has no preference on which team wins the NHL Draft Lottery in Toronto on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS).
"If [I had a preference], I definitely wouldn't be telling you right now," said the 17-year-old center with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program Under-18 team. "It's the NHL. I've said it before, I think they're all great spots and I'll be excited to go wherever I wind up, so there's no real preference for me."
Hughes (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) was No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American skaters for the 2019 Draft, to be held at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on June 21-22. He will attend the Draft Lottery and serve as a guest during the live television broadcast before departing for the 2019 IIHF World Under-18 Championship in Sweden from April 18-28.
"Obviously the lottery is the next step leading up to the draft, so it'll be great to be able to be there with all the possibilities that could happen," Hughes said. "I'll be there to do some interviews and then on the next flight out of Toronto to join my team again."
The lottery will feature three separate drawings that determine the first three selections of the first round; the remaining 12 non-playoff teams will be placed in inverse order of the final League standings.
The Colorado Avalanche, who acquired the Ottawa Senators' first pick in the Matt Duchene trade last season, have the best odds of winning the lottery at 18.5 percent. The Los Angeles Kings are second at 13.5 percent, followed by the New Jersey Devils (11.5 percent), Detroit Red Wings (9.5 percent), Buffalo Sabres (8.5 percent), New York Rangers (7.5 percent), Edmonton Oilers (6.5 percent), Anaheim Ducks (6.0 percent), Vancouver Canucks (5.0 percent), Philadelphia Flyers (3.5 percent), Minnesota Wild (3.0 percent), Chicago Blackhawks (2.5 percent), Florida Panthers (2.0 percent), Arizona Coyotes (1.5 percent) and Montreal Canadiens (1.0 percent).
Hughes led the NTDP with 86 points (23 goals, 63 assists) in 41 games this season. He holds NTDP records for assists (139) and points (202) in 101 games in two seasons.
He could become the fifth NTDP alum chosen No. 1 in the NHL draft, joining goalie Rick DiPietro (New York Islanders, 2000), defenseman Erik Johnson (St. Louis Blues, 2006), and forwards Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks, 2007) and Auston Matthews (Toronto Maple Leafs, 2016).
"[Being selected No. 1] would be a dream come true, something I've thought about for a long time," Hughes said. "I want to be the first player chosen, be the best player in the draft. But I also feel it would be great for USA Hockey and the National Team Development Program."