It wouldn't have mattered which team had the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft. Jack Hughes just wants to be the first player taken.
"You always dream of being No. 1," Hughes told reporters Friday at the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo. "You don't dream of being two, three or four when you're a young kid."
But the 18-year-old American center isn't about to ruffle any feathers. Asked whether he'd look better in red or blue, with the Devils and Rangers holding the top two picks in the NHL Draft, Hughes said, "I think I'd look good in either."
Hughes has long been considered a lock to be the top pick in this year's NHL Draft, but Finnish wing Kaapo Kakko at the very least worked himself into the conversation after a strong year in Finland and a stellar run at the IIHF World Championship.
Kakko isn'tn in Buffalo for the combine since Finland won gold at the Worlds, and it would've been a very quick turnaround for him.
"We'll see how it plays out between now and the draft, but I'm sure at some point, if we can, we'll be sitting down with him,'' Rangers assistant GM Chris Drury told Newsday. "Honestly, I didn't think he was coming, anyway. You get that far in that tournament, you win the gold medal Sunday night, I would have been surprised if he did come to Buffalo.''
The only concern from some regarding Hughes has been his size, even though players less than six-feet tall like Nikita Kucherov, Patrick Kane and Johnny Gaudreau have had great success in the NHL.
"First of all I'm 5'11", so I mean, I don't think I'm very small," Hughes said. "I think I'm right there in the middle. But I mean, you see where the game's gone, it's a speed-and-skill game. Guys like Gaudreau, 99 points; Kucherov, 128; Kaner, 110. These aren't big guys putting up those points. I think I translate well to the new game, which is speed and skill."
Whether it's Hughes in Newark and Kakko on Broadway or vice versa, the two players will be compared for years to come and could add a spark to the Hudson River Rivalry.
"We'll be linked to each other for a lot of years with the Rangers and Devils right there," Hughes said.