It turned out the Rangers didn’t need to finish in the bottom three to get a top-three pick in this summer’s NHL Draft. The Blueshirts, who entered the lottery holding the sixth position overall, won the No. 2 overall pick right behind the Devils, who captured the No. 1 choice for the second time in three years.
It will be the second time the Rangers have picked second, choosing Hall of Fame defenseman Brad Park with the No. 2 pick in 1966.
The results mean the Devils, who took Nico Hischier with the top overall pick in 2017, likely will take Jack Hughes, the 5-10, 170-pound center from the U.S. National Team Development Program. The Rangers then most likely would take Finnish forward Kaapo Kakko with the No. 2 pick.
Hughes, who had 23 goals, 63 assists and 86 points in 41 games for the US NTDP U-18 team, was the No. 1 rated North American skater, according to the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau.
Kakko, a 6-2, 194-pound right wing who scored 22 goals and 38 points in 45 regular-season games and added four goals in five playoff games for TPS in the Finnish Liiga, was the No. 1 rated European skater according to CSB.
With Kakko already playing in the top league in Finland, he has a legitimate chance to make the Rangers next season. And if last summer’s top pick, Vitali Kravtsov, who played in Russia’s KHL this season, comes over to North America this fall, the Rangers could potentially have a very different — and much younger look in 2019-20.
The Rangers also own Winnipeg's first-round pick this season, having acquired it in the Kevin Hayes trade at the Feb. 25 deadline. In addition, the Rangers also could own Tampa Bay’s first-round pick if the Lightning win the Stanley Cup.
The Chicago Blackhawks, who entered the lottery in the 12th position, jumped into the No. 3 position, while Colorado, which possesses Ottawa’s first-round pick and entered the lottery in the No. 1 position, slid to No. 4 overall. The Los Angeles Kings, which was No. 2 before the lottery, slid to No. 5.