Prospect Mailbag: Brannstrom, Thiessen, Knight, & Hughes vs Kakko

Chris Wassel




Question: “It is the question that everyone keeps asking, do you take Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko if you are New Jersey?”


Answer: It has been the same choice since day one for me. For as good as Kaapo Kakko is, Jack Hughes presents the best fit for the New Jersey Devils. Let’s deep dive this a bit for Hughes. Russ Cohen and I frequently talk about prospects and one of the things that Hughes does which separates himself is his edgework. Does this sound like a testimonial from the Jack Eichel year? Perhaps. Hughes has edgework and first stride ability that is generational.

Trajectory wise, the urge will be to play him on the top line. It is something I could not disagree with more. The funny thing is playing him in the middle-six at even strength with some veterans is much more prudent. This allows Hughes to be more creative and learn the game with more puck responsible veterans. The third line with some second line ice time and first power-play unit scenario would not surprise anyone if it came to fruition.

New Jersey needs a more consistent power play and Hughes will make plays that help improve their special teams immediately. That’s right. I said immediately. At a minimum, chances, particularly of a high-danger variety, will rise. After that, teams will start cheating when Hughes is on the ice and that will lead to more breakdowns on the opposition penalty kill.

Jack Hughes has NHL vision right now. He will turn 18 in a couple of weeks. Hughes has something else that is just as obvious – marketability. New Jersey will have Hall, Hughes, and Hischier. That is some nucleus to build around for the Devils. Lastly, talking to Hughes, one gets the impression that he is eager to improve on his deficiencies with swift quickness. That likeability is not just about giving the right answer. Hughes gets it. It’s not to say that Kaako does not. It is to say that Hughes, barring something unforeseen, is the New Jersey Devils’ first pick in June.



Question: “Would you take three first-round picks and a prospect for Jack Eichel in a fantasy hockey league?”


Answer: It always depends on the prospects. However, this is Eichel we are talking about here. The idea of giving up Eichel for essentially four prospects is a bit daunting. Here is why. I know what I am getting with Eichel and the center still has room to improve. Now, the scales tilt a little if I see a Troy Terry or Adam Fox included in that prospect pool.

However, despite the Eichel cap hit (if one is in a salary cap league), I can fill holes with a few minor league players and still have the Buffalo center on my roster. That is a better prospect for my fantasy team’s health.