NEWARK, N.J. — It is just a day away from the NHL Draft in Newark and four of the top prospects took to the ice this afternoon with some local youth hockey players for clinic at AmeriHealth Pavilion.
Also on hand were several New Jersey Devil’s alumni and the New Jersey Devil.
During the roughly hour long clinic the alumni and prospect ran several drills with the kids and gave them pointers. Devils radio play-by-play man Matt Loughlin was also there to chat with the prospects during the clinic.
Afterwards the prospects talked about how much they enjoyed, as well as how it also helped distract them for a little while.
“This is hockey, but it takes your mind off of yourself a little bit and focuses it on something else,” Seth Jones told reporters. Jones has garnered a lot of attention not only for his skill on the ice, but for the fact that he will likely become the highest drafted African-American in NHL history. It’s a story line that has been done to death, but still an important one to think about.
Darnell Nurse also took a lot away from the experience saying afterwards: “I love doing stuff like that where you give back as much as you can. I think the best part about it is when you see all the smiles on your faces.”
Nurse is a bit of a wild card on where he will end up. Like Jones, who’s father Popeye Jones played in the NBA, Nurse has a well know athlete as a family member. He is the nephew of former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, who is in town for the draft.
Understandably there are nerves for these future NHLers.
“It’s going to be pretty anxious tomorrow,” said Nathan MacKinnon, who could very well go number one overall tomorrow. “A couple butterflies in your stomach, but the years over and everybody has put in what they had. It’s going to be an exciting day.”
Nurse said the draft was exciting, but it was just a start.
“What it is, is a team just has your name and your rights,” he said. ” You have to work to get to a play where you can make it. For me it’s motivating.”
The prospects at the clinic also had the chance to meet and skate with Buddy Valastro, aka “The Cake Boss.”
Buddy is working on a special cake for the NHL Draft that will be unveiled tomorrow and will all featured in a september episode of the show. Jones and MacKinnon did not know about show, but enjoyed the experience, while Nurse was jokingly wondering where was the treats.
Buddy also enjoyed his time skating with the four prospects. “It was pretty intense those draft picks are phenomenal,” he said. He also said he was a Devils fan and makes it to one to two games a season.
And when pressed about which kid he’d pick if he was a general manager, it seemed like he was leaning towards Jones.
“The kid Seth was real good,” he said. “He was like a laser. Every time that puck came, boom, boom boom. I didn’t want to be the goalie saving that one, that’s for damn sure. I’m sure they’ll all have great careers and they all look like great guys. I just wish them the best in life and success.”
In sense it will all come to an end tomorrow for these four prospects and many others. And in another it will just be the beginning.