NHL Draft: USA Hockey big winner of Round 1

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The first round of the 2019 NHL draft started with an American-born player, Jack Hughes, going to the New Jersey Devils with the No. 1 overall pick.

It wrapped up with another American-born player, Ryan Johnson, going to the Buffalo Sabres with the No. 31 pick.

In between those two bookends were a lot more American-born players as 11 of the first 31 players selected in this year’s class were born in the United States.

Even more amazing than that number is the fact that nine of those players have ties to the United States Hockey League, with EIGHT of them having all played for the U.S. National Development team (Johnson is the only USHL player that was not a member of that team).

That number sets a new NHL draft record for the most players selected from one team in the first round (the previous record was four).

A few facts to wrap all of that up…

• The Devils made Hughes the eight American-born player to ever go first overall in the draft. It was no surprise he was the top pick as he has been expected to go in that spot for more than a year now and will be the foundation the Devil’s organization alongside Nico Hischier (the 2017 No. 1 overall pick) and, if they can re-sign him, Taylor Hall.

• After Hughes, there were two other National Development Team players selected in the top-10 with Alex Turcotte (Los Angeles Kings, No. 5 overall), and Trevor Zegras (Anaheim Ducks, No. 9 overall) both being selected at the top of the draft. This is the fourth time in the past six years multiple American-born players went in the top-10 of the draft.

• There was a run on National Development team players between picks 12-15 with Matthew Boldy (Minnesota Wild), Spencer Knight (Florida Panthers), Cameron York (Philadelphia Flyers), and Cole Caufield (Montreal Canadiens) all going in a row. There is a lot of intrigue with those picks. Knight was the first goalie to go off the board in this year’s class and is only the 10th American-born goalie to ever go in the first round of the draft. York’s development will be interesting to watch because the Flyers traded down from pick No. 11, picking up an extra pick this year’s class. Then there is Caufield, perhaps the most intriguing player in this year’s class. What he lacks in size he makes up for in game-breaking goal-scoring ability. Given his build and incredible production he is going to draw inevitable comparisons to Chicago Blackhawks forward Alex DeBrincat, and if he becomes anything close to that the Canadiens and their fans are going to be extremely happy.

• After the selection of Caufield at No. 15, there was a bit of a gap in US Development Team players until the Boston Bruins took John Beecher at No. 30 to help start restocking their center depth.

• In between all of them, Thomas Harley (Dallas Stars) and Nolan Foote (Tampa Bay Lightning) were the other two American-born players selected. Foote is the younger brother of Cal Foote, the Lightning’s first-round pick in 2017. Both of them are the sons of former NHL defender Adam Foote.

Related: Complete Round 1 draft tracker

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.