VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — The New Jersey Devils selected American center Jack Hughes with the first pick in the NHL draft Friday night.
From Orlando, Florida, Hughes is the eighth American selected No. 1, and first since 2016, when the Toronto Maple Leafs chose Auston Matthews.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound play-making center was the NHL Central Scouting Bureau’s top-ranked North American prospect. Hughes was chosen ahead of Finland’s Kaapo Kakko, who was the top-ranked European prospect.
“Man, it’s a surreal feeling,” said Hughes, who had a lengthy dinner with Devils GM Ray Shero during the pre-draft combine in Buffalo this month. “I’ve said this like eight times already, but I’m pumped to be a Devil and I’m so excited.”
Hughes had 74 goals and 154 assists to set the USA Hockey National Team Development Program’s two-year record with 228 points in 110 games.
The Rangers followed by selecting Kakko. He’s a 6-foot-2 winger, who helped Finland complete an international gold-medal sweep at the world championships, world juniors and Under-18 tournament. He had 22 goals the Finnish Elite League, the most by a draft-eligible player.
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