Jack Hughes joined an exclusive group Friday night when the New Jersey Devils made him the first pick of the NHL Draft in Vancouver.
The 18-year-old center, a 5-foot-10, 171-pounder born in Orlando, Fla., is the eighth American-born player selected with the first pick in the draft and the fourth this century.
“I’m so fired up, man, I’m so pumped up to be a Devil now,” Hughes told NBC Sports Network. “Great people, great organization. I’m just so happy to be a part of the Devils organization.”
Hughes has New Hampshire connections. His father, Jim, was the Manchester Monarchs’ head coach for the 2005-06 season. His mother, Ellen Weinberg-Hughes, was a three-sport star at the University of New Hampshire and is in UNH’s Athletics Hall of Fame.
Hughes, whose brother Quinn was selected seventh overall by the Vancouver Canucks last season, scored a record 228 points in two seasons with the USA Hockey National Team Development and added 32 points in two International Ice Hockey Federation tournaments, breaking the record set by Alex Ovechkin.
The Devils, who had the third-fewest points in the NHL this season, won the draft lottery in May and the right to pick first for the second time in three years and the third time in franchise history.
As expected, Finnish forward Kaapo Kakko was the second overall pick, by the New York Rangers.
With the 30th pick (next to last) of the first round, the Boston Bruins selected John Beecher, a 6-3, 209-pound left-shot forward from Elmira, N.Y.
Beecher, who also played for the U.S. development team, will enroll at Michigan in the fall. The Wolverines will visit UNH for a weekend series in November.