One of the biggest draft selections in New York Rangers history will ultimately be decided by Ray Shero and the New Jersey Devils.
Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko, as most have determined this decision to be a win-win for the Blueshirts. Gorton has no pressure on him whatsoever. The oddsmakers and Rangers pundits are all in agreement with this fact. The Rangers will select whomever the Devils pass on in order to improve the rebuilding process.
The pressure is all on the Devils organization. It’s almost become more political than professional. Shero has the weight of the Devils organization as well as the future of USA Hockey on his shoulders.
Ray Shero is a member of the U.S. Hockey advisory team that was formed by general manager Chris Drury. Drury also serves as assistant GM of the Rangers and general manager of the teams AHL affiliate Hartford Wolf Pack.
Shero has one of the toughest selections to make as his Devils sit with the number one overall pick in the upcoming NHL Draft.
Does he select the number one prospect in this year’s draft, 18-year old Jack Hughes or the projected number two prospect Kakko? Prior to the NHL lottery in April, there was no discussion; Hughes was the selection almost assumed to be going to the Devils.
Since then, Kakko’s name has surfaced giving Rangers fans anxiety that the Devils would change paths and claim him with the first selection. Kakko has already recorded three goals in the World Championships being played in Slovakia.
Hughes has an outstanding U18 tournament this season, recording nine goals with 20 points in seven games.
Kakko and Hughes battled one another on Monday with Team USA winning the contest 3-2 in overtime. Kakko’s puck possession and handling stood out most in the battle of the two youngsters.
The two will continue to showcase their talents for another few weeks as they look to win a gold medal for their respective clubs and nations.
The Devils and Rangers are rivals in the Metropolitan division. Now, the intensity between these two clubs will increase not just for the draft, but for many seasons to come while the clubs continue to battle for supremacy in the tri-state area.
It’s a decision that could lead to the success of winning Stanley Cup championships. It’s a franchise-altering decision involving two players who have the ability to step on the ice and immediately improve a hockey team.
Hockey can be a strange game. Wins and losses are normally determined on the ice over a 60 or 65-minute regular season contest. This time, a team can help find wins by announcing a name at a podium in Vancouver, British Columbia on a Friday evening.
For Jeff Gorton and the entire organization, a selection by another team can lead to the team ending its rebuilding stature and finally begin to take the ice looking to make the postseason for the first time in two seasons.
Who will put on the Original 6 sweater of the New York Rangers? Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko would both look great standing on the stage next to Jeff Gorton and David Quinn.
Five weeks remain until the selection is announced. Jeff Gorton might very well be the most relaxed general manager in the NHL that night.