Ever since the draft lottery, this night seemed inevitable for Devils fans. It all looked just too perfect to screw up with the highly touted brother of our young franchise center sitting there for us at #4, being rated in the sweet spot where the Devils didn’t have to reach or move up for him. Not to mention playing a position where we need young, controllable talent the most. It was so predictable I didn’t even watch it live, I kinda did need a nap anyway after a couple of days of light sleep this week gave me a headache and despite the mid 80’s weather, the humidity wore me out a little more today too. Still had a headache after my nap so I took some Advil and now have the draft on since we still have an upcoming pick to deal with, or just deal away.
Don’t confuse predictable for boring or meaningless though. Especially if you see Jack Hughes’s reaction in that video above to our drafting of Luke, I’m sure most people watching or paying attention to the draft have seen it in some form or other tonight as a gif. Devil fans know all too well how much family bonds can mean, and I don’t mean the token gift pick of Marty’s kid in 2014. I’m more referring to the Scott Niedermayer defection from New Jersey to Anaheim, which was arguably set in stone the minute we beat the Ducks, and brother Rob in the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals with the Cup tally becoming Scott 3 and Rob 0. We know how that story ended, happily for the Niedermayers in 2009 with a dual Nieds Cup win.
I’ve also read internet whining about how you can’t base everything on family, well obviously but the beauty of this pick is you didn’t have to. Luke was a top five rated prospect with the family pedigree of already having two brothers in the NHL, we already had a top five pick. And heck, how can you not get a chuckle at Luke wearing Jack’s jersey during his interviews? Pretty much the only thing that could have ruined the dream scenario was someone trading up in front to snag him since it seemed like Seattle and Anaheim were leaning forward, and indeed both wound up picking forwards. Vancouver (with the other Hughes brother on its roster) seemed like the main threat of that with the #9 pick, until they traded it in one of the handful of jaw-dropping deals across the league today. Clearly it was a sellers’ market on D, which makes our trade for Ryan Graves last week seem even better from a value standpoint.
Seeing the prices for D around the league make the Luke Hughes pick even more important, hopefully he and Ty Smith can be for the D what we’re hoping Jack and Nico Hischier can be up front, our pillars to build around. It was nice to see fans at the arena celebrating the pick, though from a draft standpoint nothing will top the ‘I think you’re gonna want to hear this’ trade for Cory Schneider at Draft Day in Newark for an in-person thrill. Even if the reality of the trade didn’t live up to that initial hope and expectation, for various reasons. I thought of going too but didn’t really want to spend $10 (the donation fee/price) to see the predictable pick a half hour into the draft, then wait for some kid I’ve never heard of to be drafted at #29, assuming we even keep the pick. Kevin Weekes – who’s still plugged into us – posted this cryptic Tweet at the start of the draft with speculation flying that the Sharks want to move into the first round.
A possible trade out or down? At least I don’t have to wait too much longer to find out, we’re four picks away from #29 now, the side benefit of my nap earlier – at least I wasn’t watching the draft for three hours just to wait on this. I’ll probably have a separate blog on what we do at #29 tomorrow morning, as well as team schedule thoughts. I do kind of feel bad for whoever we draft if we do keep the pick, cause this kid’s gonna be totally overshadowed by the Hughes hype train. This kind of reminds me of the year in the early 2000’s (when the Devils were still playing at CAA/Izod) when we had to wait to see who the Devils picked toward the end of the first round at a draft party, then they traded down to make us wait even longer and people were scrambling to the phones – the landline variety – to find out who we drafted at the end of the round. This was pre-Twitter and instantaneous news. What a novelty!
They take Chase Stillman. I love the Hughes’ reaction. Jack reminds me of Spicoli from Fast Times At Ridgemont High. I can see him ordering the pepperoni and sausage pizza at Mr. Hand’s class. Like Totally!
Initial hot take: I don’t hate the Stillman pick the way the cynics online who base their picks mostly on ‘consensus rankings’ and ‘upside’ do, but I’d also be lying if I didn’t admit I still had some PTSD from Matteau and Quenneville type picks. Sometimes the bloodline angle actually doesn’t help.