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NHL Draft

Devils win NHL Draft Lottery, get No. 1 pick

Win for second time in three years; Rangers at No. 2, Blackhawks move up to No. 3

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

Devils win 2019 NHL Draft Lottery

Draft Lottery: Devils win top pick for 2019 NHL Draft

The New Jersey Devils receive the top selection in the 2019 NHL Draft, as EVP and GM Ray Shero discusses the meaning of picking first

  • 02:50 •

TORONTO -- The New Jersey Devils have the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft after winning the NHL Draft Lottery on Tuesday.

The New York Rangers won the No. 2 pick, and the Chicago Blackhawks won the No. 3 selection.

The Devils, who at 11.5 percent had the third-best chance of winning the lottery, will pick No. 1 for the second time in three drafts. They won the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery and selected center Nico Hischier with the No. 1 choice, moving up from No. 5.

The 2019 NHL Draft will be held at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on June 21 and 22.

Video: Ray Shero talks Devils winning Draft Lottery

The Devils could use the pick to select center Jack Hughes of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program under-18 team in the United States Hockey League, or right wing Kaapo Kakko of TPS in Liiga, Finland's top division.

"I skate with (Devils forward) Taylor Hall in the summers, he's been a really good guy to me, he's been really nice," Hughes told NBCSN. "... I'd be honored and really happy to play for New Jersey one day. That'd be a great spot, I hear a lot of great things about that. I'd be really excited."

Chicago had the 12th-best chance to win the lottery and an 8.2 percent chance of moving into the top three; New York was sixth.

"You always hope something like that might happen, you don't know if it ever will, but here we are and it's exciting," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said. "... You're hoping for No. 1, but I feel like we won no matter what getting from 12 to 3."

Video: Bettman draws the lottery for this year's NHL Draft

The results left the Colorado Avalanche, who with the Ottawa Senators' pick had the best odds (18.5 percent) to win the lottery, with the No. 4 pick. The Los Angeles Kings (No. 5) also fell three spots, and the Detroit Red Wings (No. 6) and Buffalo Sabres (No. 7) each fell two spots from what their odds were.

"I just had a year-end press conference yesterday and the No. 1 thing I said we needed was more talent," New Jersey general manager Ray Shero said. "Certainly two years ago getting Nico was a big step in the right direction, and doing this again, you have to be lucky, and [we did not have] a great year obviously and we want to fix that."

Hughes (5-foot-10, 170 pounds), No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm list of North American skaters, leads the NTDP with 86 points (23 goals, 63 assists) in 41 games. The 17-year-old holds NTDP records for assists (139) and points (202) in 101 games over two seasons.

"Jack is an elite skater who plays the game at top speed both with and without the puck, he sees the ice tremendously well and finds open space to create scoring chances," said Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting. "He has a complete package of skills that suggest he will be a franchise NHL player and game-changer."

Video: Jack Hughes discusses preparations for NHL Draft

Hughes is the brother of Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes, the No. 7 pick of the 2018 NHL Draft. Quinn, 19, made his NHL debut March 28 and had three assists in five games for Vancouver after completing his second season at the University of Michigan.

"I've seen Jack play a long time," Shero said. "... I'm really proud of the fact he's part of USA Hockey and that group and has developed so nicely. It's hard right after this to talk about it because there are so many good young players in this draft, but for us, we recognize Jack is a great young player and it's certainly a great night for our franchise."

New Jersey finished 26 points out of a Stanley Cup Playoff berth in the Eastern Conference this season after making the playoffs last season.

Hall on Monday said he would like to see the Devils add to their talent as he enters the final season of his contract with the potential to become a free agent next offseason.

"We have the culture and character in our locker room, but at this point in time, in my opinion, we lack some talent in positions," said Hall, who won the Hart Trophy, voted NHL MVP, last season. "Whether it's the players on our team getting better and improving, or from the outside. Certainly, when you finish 29th, you're lacking some skill and lacking some talent. The great part is we have a culture in our locker room that's fun to be around and conducive to success and hard-working people. Now it's about filling those gaps where we might have lacked this season."

Kakko (6-foot-2, 194), No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm list of International skaters, scored 22 goals in 45 games, a record for a first-time draft-eligible player in Liiga, passing Aleksander Barkov (21 goals in 53 games) for Tappara in 2012-13. Kakko's 0.84 points per game ranks fourth on the single-season list of under-18 players in Liiga, behind Mikael Granlund (2009-10, 0.93), Barkov (2012-13, 0.91) and Jari Torkki (1982-83, 0.88).

Video: Jeff Gorton on the Rangers earning the second pick

This is the first time the Rangers will pick in the top three since the NHL expanded to 12 teams for the 1967-68 season.

"Very excited about getting the second pick overall, it's going to help the Rangers moving forward," New York general manager Jeff Gorton said. "It's just a good night all around. To think about the Rangers never having had a top three pick in their franchise, that's incredible. The opportunity to get a player of the caliber we're going to get is a great opportunity to move this thing along."

Kakko is expected to play for Finland in the 2019 IIHF World Championship in Slovakia, May 10-26. Hughes will play for the United States in the 2019 IIHF World Under-18 Championship in Sweden, April 18-28.

"Kakko has excellent offensive instincts, is dangerous around the net and also a good passer and playmaker," said Goran Stubb, NHL director of European Scouting. "He could be NHL-ready as early as next season after playing two seasons (51 games) in the men's league."

Players possibly worthy of the No. 3 pick are Kirby Dach, a center for Saskatoon of the Western Hockey League; Vasili Podkolzin, a left wing for SKA St. Petersburg 2 in Russia, and Bowen Byram, a defenseman for Vancouver in the WHL.


[RELATED: Rangers, Blackhawks climb order | Draft Lottery lookup tables: By number | By team]


The 15 NHL teams that did not qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs participated in the lottery.

For the fourth straight year, the lottery assigned the top three picks in the first round. Three draws were held: the first determined the No. 1 pick, the second determined the No. 2 pick, and the third determined the No. 3 pick.

Picks 4-15 were assigned in reverse order of standings from this season. Picks 16-31 will be determined after the results of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.


1. New Jersey Devils

2. New York Rangers

3. Chicago Blackhawks

4. Colorado Avalanche (from the Ottawa Senators)

5. Los Angeles Kings

6. Detroit Red Wings

7. Buffalo Sabres

8. Edmonton Oilers

9. Anaheim Ducks

10. Vancouver Canucks

11. Philadelphia Flyers

12. Minnesota Wild

13. Florida Panthers

14. Arizona Coyotes

15. Montreal Canadiens correspondent Dave McCarthy contributed to this report

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