The NHL held the Draft Lottery on April 9th to decide the top 3 draft picks of next season. The top 3 picks will go to the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, and Chicago Blackhawks. Let’s take a look at each team and their situations this season.
Pick No. 1 – New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils won the draft lottery and snagged the 1st overall spot. Last season, the Devils went 31-41-10, totaling them to 72 points in the standings. The Devils ended up missing out on playoffs this season.
Throughout the season, the Devils struggled offensively had 219 goals for (26th in the league) and 271 goals against (7th in the league). With Taylor Hall injured throughout most of the season, the Devils need an offensive force such as projected 1st pick, Jack Hughes. Hughes is next to guaranteed to be the 1st overall.
Jack Hughes offers great vision, smart play making, and speed that the Devils have a very small amount of. He puts up massive points, in the 70 games Hughes has played in he has pulled in 138 points. Hughes play is similar to Patrick Kane, he’s a smaller guy at just 5’10” and 168 lbs, and is elusive on the ice with good hands. Hughes has trained with Hall so there’s established chemistry between these two skilled players. Hughes plays at the level of players like Nico Hischier, Taylor Hall, and Kyle Palmieri.
Pick No. 2 – New York Rangers
The New York Rangers lucked out with the 2nd pick following a seasons where the team went 32-36-14. The Rangers missed out on playoffs after getting only 78 points in the standings.
The Rangers ended their season with 227 goals for (22nd of 31) and 272 goals against (24th of 31). After losing players such as Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes at the trade deadline, the Rangers tanked further. In thee 21 games before the deadline the Rangers were 10-10-1 with 64 goals for and 65 goals against. In the remaining 21 games after the trade deadline, the Rangers went 5-10-6 with only 49 goals for and 71 goals against.
The Rangers will need to replace the depth scoring they lost. With the 2nd pick, the Rangers will most likely go with 18 year-old, Finnish forward Kaapo Kakko. Kakko is calm with the puck and can produce big points. Kakko has put up 43 points in 53 games. Kakko is also a heavy hitter at 6’2″ and 190 lbs. He’s smart about his hits with only 10 PIM. The problem with drafting Kaapo is he is probably staying in Finland until 2020 because he’s contracted to the Liiga league for another season.
Pick No. 3 – Chicago Blackhawks
The Chicago Blackhawks improved from last season and ended with a record of 36-34-12. The Blackhawks ended their season with 78 points in the standings and just missing out on playoffs. The Blackhawks only had 10 players that had more than 20 points, ranging from 110 points to 28 points. The Blackhawks finished with 270 goals for (8th of 31) and 292 goals against (30th of 31).
The Blackhawks are another team that could use a point producing defenseman or a great two-way forward. There are a few good players that can slot into this third pick spot. Kirby Dach is an obvious choice for a two-way forward. I wrote about Kirby earlier this week and how he would help the Hawks. Another top choice would be Bowen Byram. Byram is a 17 year-old defensemen who stands at 6’1″ and 192 lbs. Byram is a smart, confident defensemen that operates best under pressure. Playing in a city like Chicago, where stakes are high, would be best for a talented defenseman like Byram. Points wise he’s producing, Byram’s got 71 points in 67 games.
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