Devils, Rangers Set To Renew Rivalry After Securing Top NHL Draft Picks
The Devils and Rangers will pick 1-2 in this year's NHL Draft, and while the West Coast was "briefly the best coast of the NHL, all eyes are about to move back East" as the two teams "take center stage with two generational talents" available this summer in Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko, according to Abbey Mastracco of the Bergen RECORD. The Devils and Rangers having the top two picks in other years normally "wouldn't mean as much," but with the Hughes-Kakko duo "headlining a deep draft class the fates of both franchises are expected to change in a hurry." Continuity and success have been the "hallmark of both teams throughout much of their combined histories, but now they both find themselves in transformative periods." When Devils Exec VP & GM Ray Shero and Rangers GM Jeff Gorton make their draft selections in Vancouver on June 21 it "could end up being one of the more iconic moments of the storied rivalry." With two of the game's "top young talents on either side of the river for the foreseeable future, the level of excitement will be high for years to come" (Bergen RECORD, 4/10).
BUILDING THE FOUNDATION: The Devils also won the Draft lottery in '17, taking C Nico Hischier, but Shero said that the two situations "could not be more different." Shero: "It just is a way different feeling. It's still a disappointing season, but not like it was two years ago because I really feel and see the upside and the culture that has been created." THE HOCKEY NEWS' Ken Campbell noted as the losses "mounted and the Devils watched their season go down the drain, they stayed the course." Instead of firing coach John Hynes, Shero "gave him a two-year contract extension to quell any speculation regarding his future." Devils ownership "did the same with Shero, signing him to a multi-year extension the day before the lottery." It will "take some time, but the Devils will be back among the NHL's contenders within a couple of seasons." That is the "way these things work." It "starts at the top with solid ownership and competent management and the Devils have both." Not only is Shero "lucky, but he's also very, very good at what he does" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 4/9).