Wayne Simmonds

New Jersey Devils: Can Simmonds Have A Resurgence In Newark?

featured image photo credit – Dinur Blum

The New Jersey Devils have continued their resurgence from last place in the Eastern Conference to looking like a more prominent force in a very difficult division. In an offseason highlighted by drafting Jack Hughes and trading for P.K. Subban, they now add to that by bringing in another former Nashville Predators in Wayne Simmonds.

The Devils brought in Simmonds on a 1-year, $5.5 million contract in a free agency. Simmonds lost some value on what was considered a down year for the 30-year old winger. The Scarborough, Ontario native tallied just 17 goals and 13 assists last season between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Nashville Predators after having 2 seasons with 60 points and another 2 with 50+ points with the Flyers. His defense and intensity level has still been something that Simmonds has brought season in and season out. However, with him getting older and speed/pace of the game changing, he isn’t the same forward that he once was. That was evident last season even in a Nashville Predators defensive system which has always been phenomenal throughout their franchise history, but even better recently.

Devils Got A Great Deal 

Despite the drop in production and slight decline skillset wise, the Devils still got him on a favorable deal at $5.5 million. The Devils need all the offensive depth they can get. They are a very young team and need supporting cast for their two young centers in Hughes and 2017 #1 pick Nico Hischier. Simmonds is a sniper that can definitely help one of those centers’ playmaking ability and elevate their assist totals if he’s on his game like he was from 2013-17 with the Flyers.

The Devils need other guys to be 20-goal scorers to create two strong lines. For their third line, the Devils will need to use the young players with upside. Both, Kyle Palmieri and Taylor Hall are trustworthy options on the wing spots for the Devils to score 20+ goals, and they also got a surprising 22-goal year out of Blake Coleman last year. So most likely, Simmonds will have to start out on the second line, maybe the third line in some head-to-head matchups. However, if chemistry starts to evolve with certain players, Simmonds is definitely capable of being a first line contributor if he fits the system.

Confidence In Simmonds?

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However, his tenure with Nashville last year doesn’t really show promise in terms of having confidence that a rise would happen. He only scored 1 goal and 2 assists in 17 regular season games, and as a result he only played in 2 playoff games where he was scoreless. He was decent defensively in those games and in that Nashville system as a whole, but the struggle to score definitely was concerning. But like I said earlier, there are certain teams that have to take those kinds of chances to rebirth a player, and I think it makes sense for the Devils to do that, especially in a Metropolitan division where a lot of teams have improved and was overly deep to begin with.

The Washington Capitals won the cup last year, the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders were big surprises, the New York Rangers just signed Artemi Panarin and traded for Jacob Trouba, the Pittsburgh Penguins just traded for Alex Galchenyuk despite losing Phil Kessel, so it seemed evident that the Devils needed to do something else to keep up. Plus, it didn’t seem like a panic move either, because it was only $5.5 million, on a Devils team that isn’t terribly cash-strapped with the exception of P.K. Subban’s contract. Therefore, it made sense for the value, and the Devils will just have to hope that Simmonds can rebound after a poor campaign.

Is A Rebound Realistic?

How realistic is it that he finds his groove again like he did in 2013-17 with the Flyers?

One factor is that the Devils’ overall offensive depth is not nearly as strong as that of the Flyers or the Predators. While Jack Hughes can be a next big thing type player and Nico Hischier has strong upside as well, they aren’t at the same level as Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson. Hughes will definitely get there and Hischier can get there, but the question will be how much it will work this season. In any sport, there have been situations where weaker rosters have worked with certain players due to chemistry. But, that’s a wild card situation. It looks to be more of a slight negative with the Devils having some unknowns, especially if Taylor Hall can’t stay healthy like he couldn’t last year, playing in only 33 games.

Advanced Possession Metrics

The other factor I looked at is how the game has changed through the analytics that scouts and general managers judge players on now. These metrics have been something that might illustrate his small drop in production last year, and even in years where his raw point production has still been good. Both, his relative Fenwick and Corsi metrics have been in the negatives the last 3 seasons, including a -2.4% relative Corsi and -3.2% relative Fenwick rating with the Nashville Predators. Also, in terms of puck possession metrics, both his Fenwick percentage and Corsi percentage have been under 50% each of the last 4 seasons. Part of that has to do with the Flyers’ very physical style of play with their forwards and him playing with that style throughout his career even with the Kings and Predators. However, some of that also has to do with the speed of the game and Simmonds not being an overly fast skater and great overall puck handler, which is important in a puck possession game today. On the positive side, Simmonds’ physicality can help get guys off the puck very effectively, especially with the way he hits. Not to mention, the Devils have always been more of a defensive team both historically and recently, so I think he should have a smoother transition into that system than others.

Good Signing For The Value

So overall, the Devils signing Simmonds at $5.5 million should be a good signing for that value. It’s hard for me to believe that his overall production will be 30 points again like it was last season. It will be a prove it contract for both Simmonds and the Devils. But, Simmonds needs to find chemistry quickly with Hischier or Hughes, otherwise he might be a fringe player after this season.

stats from hockey-reference.com

2019 NHL Draft: Potential Gems Part 2 – Metropolitan Division

Welcome back to my “Gems of the Draft” series.

Last time, we went over the Atlantic Division teams and took a look at one player from each team that could turn out to be a gem from the 2019 NHL Draft class. Here’s a little recap.
 
Boston Bruins – Matias Mantyviki (D)
Buffalo Sabres – Filip Cederqvist (LW)
Detroit Red Wings – Albin Grewe (LW)
Florida Panthers – Cole Schwindt (C)
Montreal Canadiens – Arsen Khisamutdinov (LW)
Ottawa Senators – Mads Sogaard (G)
Tampa Bay Lightning – Max Crozier (D)
Toronto Maple Leafs – Mikko Kokkonen (D)
 
This time, we’re going to take a look at the Metropolitan Division and see who could surprise among the Metro teams. They dominated the first round of the draft namely in the top three, with first overall pick Jack Hughes joining the New Jersey Devils and second overall pick Kaapo Kakko joining the New York Rangers. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of these under-the-radar players.

Carolina Hurricanes – Blake Murray (C, 6th Round, 183rd Overall)

The Hurricanes had a Cinderella season of sorts this past season. After entering the regular season with intentions of MAYBE qualifying for a first round appearance, they ended up advancing to the conference finals before getting swept at the hands of the Boston Bruins. With that being said, the Hurricanes still had an incredible successful season and still ended up with a solid first round pick, taking centre Ryan Suzuki at 28th overall. The Hurricanes had a very busy draft weekend, drafting 12 new prospects, and I think their gem in disguise is Blake Murray.
 
Murray had just finished off his second season with the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL, and after a strong debut season that saw him put up 44 points in 57 games, he followed up with an equally successful season where he ended up with 50 points in 66 games. He’s one of the younger players in the draft, turning 18 in early July, and he has good size at 6’2 and 187lbs. The way I see it, the Hurricanes are laughing by picking up an offensively talented centre with good size in the 6th round.

Columbus Blue Jackets – Tyler Angle (C, 7th Round, 212th Overall)

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I wish I could go off on a tangent about the Blue Jackets having a busy draft weekend and selecting a plethora of fresh young talent, but the reality is they did the exact opposite. They drafted a whopping three players over the weekend, with two of them coming in the fourth round and one of them coming in the seventh. To make my decision, I went with the latter and chose Tyler Angle as my potential gem.
 
After missing the cutoff date for the 2018 draft by 15 days, the 2000 born Angle stormed back with a strong draft season, good enough for the Jackets to take a flier on him in the seventh round. He spent this season with the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL and was a key part of their offense, putting up 44 points in 58 games. This was good enough for fifth on the team in scoring. Angle will likely spend another year or two in the juniors, but he could turn out to be something for the Jackets.

New Jersey Devils – Patrick Moynihan (C, 6th Round, 158th Overall)

Any Devils player from the 2019 draft class likely won’t receive too much media attention for the sole purpose that all eyes will be on Jack Hughes, who was drafted first overall by the Devils. New Jersey is now looking at a one-two punch down the middle of Hughes and Nico Hischier, which will without a doubt become a force in the Metro over the next few seasons. Granted, the lack of pressure could benefit some of the players drafted in the later rounds, and Patrick Moynihan is one of them.
 
The USNTDP produced lots of talent this year, with the Americans making up a large portion of the 2019 draft class. While Moynihan didn’t light up the USHL like some drafted higher, his totals were still impressive with a combined 68 points over 92 games with the program. The 5’10 centre is committed to Providence College of the NCAA for the forseeable future, so it will be interesting to monitor his development and see if he becomes something for the Devils.

New York Islanders – Reece Newkirk (C, 5th Round, 147th Overall)

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In a successful first season without John Tavares leading the charge, the Islanders advanced to the second round before being swept by the Carolina Hurricanes. Slotted to pick at 23rd overall, they went slightly off the board and selected Swedish forward Simon Holmstrom. Aside from that, the Isles had a quiet draft weekend with only five picks, and out of the crop I think their gem is going to be Reece Newkirk.
 
Newkirk spent this season with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL and took a huge step in his draft season, going from 11 points in 58 games to 59 points in 68 games. He isn’t the biggest player on the ice, standing at 5’11 and 172lbs, but he’s a talented offensive player and was good enough to finish fourth on the team in scoring on the team. With the Islanders already having a plethora of offensive talent lined up in the form of Mat Barzal, Oliver Wahlstrom, and Anthony Beauvillier, Newkirk’s name could join this list in the future.

New York Rangers – Adam Edstrom (C, 6th Round, 161st Overall)

Like the Devils, the Rangers’ 2019 draft class likely won’t have to worry about too much time in the spotlight as most of the focus will be shifted to second overall pick Kaapo Kakko. The Rangers had a solid draft day that saw eight new prospects don the red white and blue, and somebody worth keeping an eye on is forward Adam Edstrom.
 
The first thing you’ll notice about Edstrom is that he’s an absolute truck on the ice, standing at 6’6 and 207lbs. He doesn’t shy away from physicality and he combines this with a knack for scoring goals, which is an impressive combination that can make coaches drool. He primarily played for Mora IK’s J20 team, putting up 16 points in 20 games, and also spent time with Mora IK of the SHL where he put up one point in 15 games. He’s under contract with Rogle BK of the SHL next season and will look to secure a full time role with the team.

Philadelphia Flyers – Egor Serdyuk (RW, 6th Round, 165th Overall)

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The Philadelphia Flyers have arguably the best crop of young talent on the back end, with a pool consisting of Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Samuel Morin, and Philippe Myers. They added to this crop in the first round this year, selecting defenseman Cam York at 14th overall, meaning the Flyers could arguably have the best defensive core in the NHL over the next few years. They selected seven players on draft weekend, and I have their potential gem in the person of a forward this time in Egor Serdyuk.
 
Serdyuk spent his entire career playing in his native Russia, but made the move to North America last season and spent his draft season playing for the Victoriaville Tigres of the QMJHL where he put up 65 points in 63 games. When you get the chance to draft a player who scores at a pace above a point per game in a round as late as the sixth, you take it. The Flyers could really have something going here.

Pittsburgh Penguins – Nathan Legare (RW, 3rd Round, 74th Overall)

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After a disappointing end to the season in 2018-19 that saw them get swept in the first round by the New York Islanders, the Penguins saw themselves at 21st overall on the draft board and used it to select forward Samuel Poulin. Like the Islanders, they only selected five players on day two but could have found themselves a gem in the third round. He goes by the name of Nathan Legare.
 
Legare could be deemed as both a gem and a steal, given that he very well could have gone earlier in the draft. But regardless, the fact that the Penguins were able to pounce on a player of Legare’s type in the third round counts as a gem of a pick for me. In his second season with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the QMJHL, he absolutely exploded offensively and put up a 45 goal, 87 point campaign over 68 games. He’s a gifted offensive forward and could end up being a steal for the Penguins so late in the draft.

Washington Capitals – Martin Hugo Has (D, 3rd Round, 91st Overall)

After a historic cup run in the 2017-18 season, the Washington Capitals fell victim to a first round elimination at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes. They ended up with a pick at 25th overall and used it to select forward Connor McMichael, and then used their second round pick to select first-round talent Brett Leason. This left the Capitals with two more picks over the weekend, and for their potential gem I decided to go with Martin Hugo Has.
 
Has is a 6’4 right handed Czech defenseman who spent this season playing for Tappara U20 of Finland’s junior leagues. He impressed here, putting up 16 points over 37 games. The defensive combination of size and right-handedness automatically makes you more valuable as a player, and I’m sure the Capitals had this in mind when they selected him. He’s geared up to play for Tappara’s pro team for the SM-Liiga next season, and could turn into an impressive pick for the Capitals.
 
Thanks for reading. Tune in next time where we’ll dive into the Central division and check out all of their potential gems.
 
stats from eliteprospects.com
 
New Jersey Devils

New Jersey Devils: Acquire P.K. Subban

The New Jersey Devils made the biggest splash on the Draft Floor when they acquired P.K. Subban from the Nashville Predators for a package of draft picks and Steven Santini and Jeremy Davies.

 

Devils Take

While it is difficult to gauge the results of the trade right away, it is fun to speculate as to how this plays out. Firstly, P.K. Subban is an upgrade on most blue-lines. He is a talented puck mover with a hard point shot and excellent skating ability. While his defense is less than stellar, he is no slouch, and he adds scoring potential and bolsters a team’s power play. Coming off his worst statistical season, Subban’s play led the Predators to sell low on the former Norris Trophy Winner. The Devils are hoping that Subban can return to form and justify the $9M per year price tag.

A realistic expectation for New Jersey fans would be to get 50 to 55 points from Subban, and he could eat up 22 to 24 minutes a night, while manning the top power play. 

For the return they sent back, Devils General Manager Ray Shero and the team came out ahead in this trade.

Grade: B+

Predators Take

As the rumors of the lower than expected salary cap became more realistic, the idea of a P.K. Subban trade was evident. The Nashville Predators had ~$77M in team salary committed to next season, with a few glaring holes to fill. They have been rumored to be one of the leading clubs to land Unrstricted Free Agent Matt Duchene. Assuming Dante Fabro makes the leap to full-time NHLer, he will likely slot in the top 4, which leaves Santini to fill in the bottom pair.

I think the two 2nd round picks are an underwhelming return, getting Davies in the deal was a bit of a sweetener. He is a talented offensive defenseman that just signed his Entry Level Contract. Playing at Northeastern University, he netted eight goals and 28 assists in 37 games. He will likely join the Milwaukee Admirals next season, Nashville’s American Hockey League affiliate, and make a worthwhile extra defenseman, if injury forces the situation.

Grade: C

Summary

Overall, I think this was a pretty good hockey trade that was dictated from a Devils position of strength. Any other year, this would have been a horrifying trade for the Predators, but their cap situation and a down year by Subban forced Nashville General Manager Dave Poille’s hand.

Statistics provided by TSN

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals

Puck 77 NHL Draft Scouting Reports

We’ve compiled all of the scouting reports done by the various members of the Puck77 team for the NHL Draft here in one easy location so you can jump right to the player you want!

Our Top-12

1. 🇺🇸 Jack Hughes, C, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Jack Hughes by Tony Ferrari

2. 🇫🇮 Kaapo Kakko, RW, TPS (Liiga): Deep Dive Scouting Report of Kaapo Kakko by Tony Ferrari

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3. 🇺🇸 Alex Turcotte, C, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Alex Turcotte by Tony Ferrari

4. 🇨🇦 Bowen Byram, LHD, Vancouver Giants (WHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Bowen Byram by Tony Ferrari

5. 🇺🇸 Trevor Zegras, C/LW, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Trevor Zegras by Tony Ferrari

6. 🇨🇦 Dylan Cozens, C, Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Dylan Cozens by Tony Ferrari

7. 🇺🇸 Cole Caufield, LW, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Cole Caufield by Tony Ferrari

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8. 🇨🇦 Kirby Dach, C, Saskatoon Blades (WHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Kirby Dach by Tony Ferrari

9. 🇨🇦 Alex Newhook, C, Vancouver Grizzlies (BCHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Alex Newhook by Tony Ferrari

10. 🇨🇦 Peyton Krebs, C, Kootenay/Winnipeg Ice (WHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Peyton Krebs by Tony Ferrari

11. 🇺🇸 Matthew Boldy, RW, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Matthew Boldy by Tony Ferrari

12. 🇷🇺 Vasili Podkolzin, RW, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Vasili Podkolzin by Tony Ferrari

Other Intriguing Prospects

2019 NHL Draft: What makes Philip Tomasino such an intriguing prospect? by Spencer Loane

2019 NHL Draft Deep Dive: Arthur Kaliyev by Spencer Teixeira

NHL Draft Profile: Nolan Foote by Spencer Teixeira

Come back for more profiles as they are updated and added! Thanks for stopping by!

NHL Draft Profile Jack Hughes

The likely top overall pick in this years NHL draft doesn’t have as tight a grip on the top selection as he did at the start of the season. While Kappo Kakko has closed on Hughes position, the American center has solidified his spot as the next great player to come out of the US National Team Development Program. 

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Name: Jack Hughes

Date of Birth: May 14th, 2001

Nationality (Place of Birth): American (Orlando, FL, USA)

Hieght: 5’10”

Weight: 170lbs

Shoots: Left

Position: Center

Rankings

Ranked #1 by TSN/McKenzie

Scouting Report

The above spider graph, courtesy of Kyle Pereira of Puck77, displays the available data from Will Scouch. As shown, Jack Hughes was a dominant force in many ways. He was exceptional at driving play at 5-on-5 and he is a powerplay wizard. Finishing no worse than third among the 11 prospects on the graph, Hughes clearly stands out. As a player who is able to attack the game in a variety of ways, Hughes will immediately step into and NHL locker room and be a contributor right away. 

At just 5’10” you would prefer Hughes to have more size but the way he plays the game, it’s not an issue. The diminutive center isn’t a perimeter player as many would assume due to his size, rather he lives in the middle of the ice. Hughes ability to get to the middle of the ice unabated is impressive. In the video below, Hughes begins the play by picking the puck up behind the net and then picks up some speed with the puck. At that point he makes an excellent breakout pass and then uses his speed to accelerate through the neutral zone before receiving a return pass. Hughes makes a few cuts and changes direction, cutting to the net. A pass back against the flow of direction which results in a goal. 

Tweet courtesy of @StarsStripesHKY

Hughes skating ability is otherworldly. His skating will be elite in the NHL already and he doesn’t have just straight line speed. His edge work is phenomenal as he is able to cut in either direction on a dime. He skates like a speedy NFL running back in the sense that he can make a move in any direction without notice. This skill is key in making Hughes transition game elite entering the NHL. His ability to create space with subtle changes in his skating whether it be changing direction or changing speeds is unmatched in this draft class.

With an electric offence game, Hughes has taken over games in a scorer and a playmaker role. His calling card is the ability to make the ice feel spacious for his teammates while controlling the puck and pushing the ice of play. His tape-to-rape passing ability is a thing of beauty. Whether backhand or forehand, the American is an extremely high-end passer who can break a game open by drawing defenders to him before threading a pass through traffic onto the stick of his teammates. Below you can see that Hughes displays excellent vision. After entering the offensive zone he drops a pass to the oncoming Cam York and then continues to the slot. Receiving the return pass from York, Hughes makes no mistake by putting the puck in the back of the net.

Tweet courtesy of @TSN_Sports

Defensively Hughes has all the tools to compete and excel in his own end. He may not be overly physical and won’t muscle an opponent off of the puck but he didn’t refrain from battling in the corners. More adept at using his good stick to pull the puck out of a scrum. His positioning in the defensive zone is good and he is skilled at recognizing a play and getting in the passing lanes braking up plays before they become dangerous.

Preseason Outlook

Coming into the 2018-19 season, Jack Hughes was touted as the clear number one prospect for this draft. His star had been on the rise for years. His play for the USNTDP team as well as both the U17 squads and U18 squads were absolutely outstanding. He was a force to be reckoned with regardless if he was playing with his age group or a year ahead.

Coming off of a season in which he was the highest scoring U17 player in USNDTP history, expectations started extremely high for the speedy center. Last season Hughes split time between the Under-17 and Under 18-teams. Excelling at both levels, Hughes put up 68 points in 37 games with Under 18s and 48 points in 24 games with the Under 17s. Capturing a gold medal at the U17 World Hockey Challenge and a silver medal at the IIHF Under-18 World Championship. To say he had a dominant year would be an understatement.

Draft Year with USNTDP

Jack Hughes has dominated this year. He draft season almost couldn’t have gone better. His proficiency has been displayed at every level and every event he’s played in this year. A dominant performance with the USNTDP where he put up 112 points (34 G/74 A) in just 50 games was the prime destination to see him play. The skilled center was a force in every game he played. His skill was evident at all times, with and without the puck.

Video courtesy of Hockey Prospect Center Youtube channel

With 74 assists, he proved that his playmaking ability is exceptional beyond belief. He was a constant threat to put the puck on the tape of a player in position to score. Passing from behind the net, across the ice or into the slot from the half wall, Hughes can make any pass. He was unwavering in his ability to make the smart and efficient pass from the defensive zone and then opening himself up for a return pass. An underrated part in Hughes game, much like many superstars, is the small passes that he makes to alleviate pressure from opposing players. This skill is both underrated and integral to a players capacity to play in all three zones.

His game is consistently rose to an even higher level at international tournaments. Whether it was his record setting performance in the U18 World Championships in April or the point-per-game pace he established at the World Juniors (U20) Championships just after Christmas, Hughes has proven to be a difference maker on every occasion.

Video courtesy of Puck Prodigy Youtube channel

U18’s and IIHF World Championships

The captain of an absolutely stacked American U18 team, Hughes shone like the star he is. The team ran into a hot goalie in Russia’s Yaroslav Askarov, a 2020 draft eligible goalie, in the semi-finals led to a disappointing bronze medal finish. Although the teams goals and expectation of a gold medal were not met, Hughes had an outstanding tournament. Hughes dominated in every facet of the game. His skating was on full display and his offensive precision was mouth-watering. Able to set players around him up or take control and score a goal at will, Hughes U18 tournament was absolutely dominate. 

The chemistry with Cole Caufield that was established throughout the season with the USNTDP was a major factor for both players record setting tournaments. While much was made of Caufield tying Alexander Ovechkin’s tournament record for goals (14 goals in seven games), Hughes was setting records of his own. After collecting 12 points at last year’s tournament, the 20 points he scored this year were good enough to eclipse Ovechkin’s all-time tournament record of 31 points with 32. Hughes’ nearly unprecedented run at the World U18 tournament helped earn him a spot on the Men’s IIHF World Hockey Championship.

Video courtesy of Hockey Prospect Center Youtube channel

Despite making the World Championship roster, Hughes was not able to make a difference for the American team. He wasn’t afforded the same opportunity as Kakko at the men’s tournament but it was a good eye-opening experience. Hughes had played a lot of hockey to this point and seemed a little bit gassed. In comparison, Kakko skipped the U18s in order to prepare for this tournament and ended up closing the gap on Hughes and even passed him in some evaluator’s eyes. Hughes struggled at times with the strength of the players from various men’s leagues around the world including the NHL. His best game may have come in his last game in which he had two assists. He finished with just three assists n the tournament. The young American played good for stretches but also clearly had his struggles when it came to competing physically. 

What the Detractors Say

There is no perfect player. Even some of the best in the world have their weaknesses. Many of Hughes is skills are impressive to say the least and will likely translate well to the NHL. The biggest knock on Hughes is the fact that he is a diminutive forward who isn’t a physical force on the ice. Hughes is also looked at as someone who can be seen floating in the defensive zone. This is often because he is almost always in position in his own end and floats in and out of passing lanes. Overall his biggest weakness is his size which is something that can’t be changed which means that it’s something a team will have to live with but the immense skill more than makes up for it.

Jack Hughes will be taken…

First overall most likely. Barring any major change or a catastrophic injury of some sort in training, there is little doubt that Hughes will be a New Jersey Devil come June’s NHL Entry Draft. While Kappo Kakko has closed the gap on the American, Hughes is still the top dog in this draft. While Kakko would likely be the top overall pick in many years, Hughes potential to be a franchise changing player has the Finn playing second fiddle.

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This year’s top-ranked prospect is going to be an NHL star in all likelihood. His speed, skill and playmaking ability will almost assuredly be flying up the ice in the black and red (and sometimes green) of the New Jersey Devils. With a one-two punch down the middle of Hughes and 2017 first overall pick Nico Hischier, the New Jersey Devils could be turning a page on the past and fully embrace the speed and skill, up-tempo offensive game of the modern NHL. Combining that with the possible re-signing of 2018 Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall, the Devils may return to legitimacy in less time than most pundits anticipate. Jack Hughes will be the catalyst for that.

For more on the NHL, prospects and the NHL Draft, follow me here at @TheTonyFerrari on twitter!

All stats and information provided by Hockey Reference, Elite ProspectsDobber Prospects and NHL.com