Jack Hughes of Orlando, FL has been selected first overall by the New Jersey Devils in the 2019 National Hockey League Entry Draft from the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia on Friday evening. Hughes, a center, becomes the eighth American in NHL history to be selected first overall, and second from a sun belt state in four years as in 2016 the Toronto Maple Leafs drafted Auston Matthews of San Ramon, CA first overall. Even though Matthews was born in California, he was raised in another sun belt state as his family moved to Arizona when he was very young.
The other six Americans to be selected first overall were Brian Lawton of New Brunswick, NJ by the Minnesota North Stars in 1983, Mike Modano of Livonia, MI by the North Stars in 1988, Bryan Bedard of Woonsocket, RI by the Ottawa Senators in 1995, Rick DiPietro of Winthrop, MA by the New York Islanders in 2000, Erik Johnson of Bloomington, MN by the St. Louis Blues in 2006 and Patrick Kane of Buffalo, NY by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2007.
Hughes was one of nine Americans to be drafted in the first round, and one of eight to be part of the United States National Team Development Program. The other seven Americans part of the development program were center Alex Turcotte of Island Lake, IL (fifth overall by the Los Angeles Kings), center Trevor Zegras of Bedford, NY (ninth overall by the Anaheim Ducks), left winger Matthew Boldy of Millis, MA (12th overall by the Minnesota Wild), goaltender Spencer Knight of Stamford, CT (13th overall by the Florida Panthers), defenseman Cameron York of Anaheim Hills, CA (14th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers), right winger Cole Caufield of Stevens Point, WI (15th overall by the Montreal Canadiens) and center John Beecher of Elmira, NY (30th overall by the Boston Bruins). The ninth American drafted in the first round was defenseman Ryan Johnson of Irvine, CA, who was selected 31st overall by the Buffalo Sabres. Johnson played last year with the Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League.