The NHL Draft is coming up fast and the trade rumours and speculation are heating up.
Here are some of the bigger questions to consider before the fireworks begin:
WHICH PLAYER WILL BE CHOSEN FIRST OVERALL?
Jack Hughes has long been the projected No. 1 in this draft and, after setting a USNTDP scoring record, he’s still the favourite to walk to the stage first and join the New Jersey Devils.
But Kaapo Kakko has done just about everything he could to make a race of this thing. He was terrific at the world juniors, which is where the charge started, and then set a goals record for a player his age in Finland’s Liiga, the top professional league. And though he played wing this season, there’s reason to believe he could transfer to centre in the NHL eventually.
Look, we’re expecting Hughes to go first, but remember the last time there was legitimate intrigue at the top of the draft the Devils passed on long-time No. 1 prospect Nolan Patrick for the late-charging Nico Hischier. Sam Cosentino has Hughes going to the Devils as well in his mock draft, but on the Tape To Tape Podcast, he suggested that had another team won the lottery the outcome could have been different.
“I would venture to say at least half of the teams would have Kakko as their No. 1 guy,” Cosentino said. “Kakko’s probably more NHL ready. The other thing you have to consider is more teams put value on a centre as opposed to a winger and as it stands right now Kakko does not project to play centre where Hughes does.
“But we’re looking at a 50-50 split in terms of teams that would take Kakko at No. 1.”
There are a few reasons Hughes is still the favourite to go first.
There is already a relationship there between the GM and the Hughes family. Ray Shero was once a player agent and used to represent Jack’s dad, Jim, who was a minor-league defenceman. Also, Hughes plays a position that’s always in demand and he’s a marketable American star, which is going to be enticing for New Jersey. He’d be hard for them to pass up.