Jack Hughes will just be happy to be drafted regardless of what team selects him in June.
“If [I had a preference], I definitely wouldn’t be telling you right now,” Hughes told NHL.com’s Mike Morreale. “It’s the NHL. I’ve said it before, I think they’re all great spots and I’ll be excited to go wherever I wind up, so there’s no real preference for me.”
The projected first-overall pick in the 2019 entry draft will attend the draft lottery Tuesday in Toronto as a guest and understands what it means for his future.
“Obviously the lottery is the next step leading up to the draft, so it’ll be great to be able to be there with all the possibilities that could happen,” said Hughes. “I’ll be there to do some interviews and then on the next flight out of Toronto to join my team again.”
Hughes, 17, had 86 points in 41 games with the U.S. National Team Development Program this season and has long been the consensus No. 1 pick for June’s NHL Draft.
The Colorado Avalanche have the best odds at landing the first overall pick at 18 per cent, thanks to a blockbuster trade with the Ottawa Senators that sent Matt Duchene to the nation’s capital. The Los Angeles Kings (13.5 per cent), New Jersey Devils (11.5 per cent), Detroit Red Wings (9.5 per cent) and Buffalo Sabres (8.5 per cent) round out the top five, followed by the New York Rangers (7.5 per cent), Edmonton Oilers (6.5 per cent), Anaheim Ducks (six per cent), Vancouver Canucks (five per cent), Philadelphia Flyers (3.5 per cent), Minnesota Wild (three per cent), Chicago Blackhawks (two per cent), Florida Panthers (two per cent), Arizona Coyotes (1.5 per cent) and Montreal Canadiens (one per cent).
If Hughes goes first overall, he will be the second USDP product to go first in the last three years after the Toronto Maple Leafs selected Auston Matthews in 2016. He would also be just the fifth USDP player ever chosen first overall after Matthews, Patrick Kane (Blackhawks, 2007), Erik Johnson (St. Louis Blues, 2006) and Rick DiPietro (New York Islanders, 2000).
“[Being selected No. 1] would be a dream come true, something I’ve thought about for a long time,” Hughes said. “I want to be the first player chosen, be the best player in the draft. But I also feel it would be great for USA Hockey and the National Team Development Program.”
After the draft lottery, Hughes will rejoin his teammates in Sweden for the U-18 World Championship from April 18-28.