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Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko? After months of speculation, we're about to get our answer.
While there are surely a few teams out there that would choose Kakko 1st overall if they had the opportunity, I don't think the New Jersey Devils are one of them. Nor do I think they should be.
Hughes possesses high-end speed, puck skills, and is more dynamic through the neutral zone. He is perfectly built for the modern-game. He also plays a premium position, which is a nice little bonus.
I believe Hughes should be the pick, and I believe Hughes will be the pick.
As to what else the Devils could get up to, I have no doubt they'll be on the prowl looking to take advantage of teams in cap hell: Vegas, Tampa Bay, San Jose, Toronto...you know, the usual suspects.
One of the more intriguing targets from that group of teams – at least to me – is RW Nikita Gusev.
The 26-year-old is coming off an 82-point campaign (in 62 games!) with St Petersburg of the KHL, and has averaged well over a point per game across four seasons with the team.
He's exceptionally talented and perhaps looking for more money as a RFA than Vegas can afford to pay him. If that makes him available, he's a target I'd be all over.
Whatever the case may be, I expect the Devils to explore every avenue of improvement, with a top-6/9 winger and a top-4 defender being highest on the priority list.
We'll see what Ray Shero and co. can accomplish.
A dream target for the Devils at 34th overall
On the Taylor Hall contract situation
Data tracking Hughes and Kakko at the Worlds
Five pieces the Devils could use as trade bait this summer
The Kaapo Kakko blog™
The Jack Hughes blog™