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Hughes says 'it would be unbelievable' to be No. 1 pick in NHL Draft

Center admits, 'You don't dream of being No. 2, No. 3 or No. 4'

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

BUFFALO -- Jack Hughes said it would be a "dream come true" to be the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft on June 21.

"It would be unbelievable to be chosen No. 1," the 18-year-old center said Friday. "I mean, you always dream of being No. 1 ... you don't dream of being No. 2, No. 3 or No. 4 when you're a young kid. I want to be the first overall pick and I feel like that'll be a dream come true if it happened."

Hughes attracted more than 50 media members and took every question in stride at the 2019 NHL Scouting Combine. The New Jersey Devils hold the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft after moving up two spots by winning the NHL Draft Lottery.

 

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Hughes, who could become the first player from USA Hockey's National Team Development Program to go directly from the draft to the NHL, said he has one professional goal in mind.

"Winning the Stanley Cup is the reason every hockey player plays," he said. "You dream of lifting that thing over your head since you first start playing hockey. So that's definitely the end goal for me. I want to be able to win the Stanley Cup and be successful in the NHL."

Tweet from @NJDevils: Hughes on the Devils: ���It���s a really good organization with great fans. I���d be honored to play for the Devils.��� pic.twitter.com/2rlQ4W7ETC

The New York Rangers have the No. 2 pick in the draft, which will be held at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. Rounds 2-7 are June 22.

Kaapo Kakko, who could be selected No. 1 instead of Hughes, is not attending the combine because the right wing is home in Finland celebrating after helping it win the 2019 IIHF World Championship.

Video: Jack Hughes ranks No. 1 on Draft Prospects list

Hughes said if he and Kakko become the first two picks, it will add to the rivalry between the Devils and Rangers.

"I think it's good competition," Hughes said. "Every year the potential No. 1 and No. 2 picks are competing with each other. I know we had a great year and I think we'll be linked to each other for a lot of years with the Rangers and Devils right there. I'm excited, and I think it's been a good year for both of us."

Hughes led the NTDP with 112 points (34 goals, 78 assists), 2.24 points per game, in 50 games this season. He holds NTDP career records for assists (154) and points (228), with a 2.07 points per game average in 110 games over two seasons.

Hughes will take his first of seven combine fitness tests at 10 a.m. Saturday. He said he enjoyed his 10 scheduled interviews with NHL teams this week, including the Devils, Rangers and Blackhawks, who have the No. 3 pick.

Video: Highlights of USA Hockey NTDP forward Jack Hughes

"I'm a competitive person, but at the same time I think I'm kind of laid-back in certain situations like this," Hughes said. "For me, I'm at the point where [scouts] have seen me play probably 25 times this year, so all I have to do is kind of get to know them, and be myself, and not really worry about anything else. They're kind of just putting a face to the name and getting to know me."

Hughes, who was born in Orlando, Florida, would be the eighth United States-born player chosen No. 1 in an NHL Draft, joining forwards Brian Lawton (Minnesota North Stars, 1983), Mike Modano (North Stars, 1988), Patrick Kane (Blackhawks, 2007) and Auston Matthews (Toronto Maple Leafs, 2016); defensemen Bryan Berard (Ottawa Senators, 1995) and Erik Johnson (St. Louis Blues, 2006); and goalie Rick DiPietro (New York Islanders, 2000).

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