It won't be long before the New Jersey Devils are on the clock.
The 2020 NHL Entry Draft will begin on the evening of October 6th and the Devils are set to have a busy night with three selections in the top 20.
The Devils will begin at seven, ready to add another foundational piece to the franchise. In order to better understand the prospects that will be available, the Speak of the Devils Podcast caught up with Sportsnet's Sam Cosentino for an inside look.
"If I think about Graham Clark and Nikita Okhotyuk and Kevin Bahl, and I think about all the times that the Devils brass has had the opportunity to watch the Ottawa 67s. I can't help but think about Marco Rossi being in that spot," Cosentino said of the seventh pick.
Cosentino prefaced the Rossi pick with the assumption that the top two defensemen, Jamie Drysdale and Jake Sanderson are already off the board.
"Depending on how excited teams are above the Devils to get those defensemen, and I do think both of them will be gone before the Devils pick, they will change the complexion of what happens in that first 10."
Cosentino also shared his thoughts on how teams have navigated the last few months, without an NHL Combine, in-person meetings, and the cancelation of junior seasons and several tournaments that would serve as final evaluations. Teams have had to be innovative this year and as Cosentino says, may be heavily relying, even more-so than usual, on the regional scouts entering this process.
"Your regional scouts are doing tons and tons of homework, they're phoning billet families, they're phoning teachers, they're talking to trainers, they're talking to friends, they're talking to former teammates, current teammates to do their due diligence on their player," shared Consentino. "and why shouldn't you? You're going to put a significant investment into this player. So, you should know everything about what this player is going to bring to the table."
Regardless of the circumstances, players who are drafted in October will be achieving a lifelong dream and also starting the next step. But it will certainly look different than years past, no arena to gather in with family and friends, draft tables on the arena floor and walking up onto the stage to wear the NHL jersey for the first time. This certainly will feel different.
"That's thing that I that I'm really concerned about, too - getting that once in a lifetime opportunity with your family, the big hug that we catch on camera, the tears that are flowing from the brother, the Mother, the Father, the grandparents," Cosentino added. "That's obviously going to be missed. And that's a big part of the of the draft experience. Now, having said that, the uniqueness of this, assuming that we're not going to go down this road, again, in 2021, will also put those players in a spotlight that no other player in any draft history has been part of. So that's kind of a cool element to say, 'Yeah, I was the pandemic draft.'"
Also, on this week's edition of the Speak of the Devils Podcast, we introduce a new segment, hosted by Host Catherine Bogart.
In this week's community segment, Bogart interviewed RWJBarnabas Executive Vice President and Chief Medical and Quality Officer Dr. Jack Bonamo about COVID-19.
"We live in a different world than we did seven months ago. As I have a tendancy to tell people, what we had to do early on in the pandemic was disruptive, and it was abrupt," said Dr. Bonamo. "If we had not taken the steps that we had in New Jersey, we would have had an even greater death rate and a greater illness rate. And so, in April and mid April, the RWJBarnabas Health hospitals at one point had 1750 COVID positive, very sick patients in our beds. As of today, we're about 2% of that. We have maybe 40 to 50 patients in all of our hospitals combined. And that is becasue we did the right things, we closed down, we did everything we needed to do to take care of the sick people we had."
Dr. Bonamo reflected on the support from the community throughout this pandemic, especially during New Jersey's peak in March and April.
"The support from the community was extraordinary, it's the only word I could use, extraordinary," Bonamo said. "Countless pieces of mail that came, that were cards and posters and things that people made just to say thank you. And enough food to feed a small country. There was not a restaurant within a hundred miles that did not send dinners, breakfasts, lunches, pizzas, cakes, anything you could imagine. Staff for months and months and months never had to worry about bringing lunch."
As for what New Jersey residents can do now to keep COVID-19 numbers down? Be safe and wear a mask.
"We're still not out of the woods, we cannot take our eye off the ball. We must continue to do those things that worked for us and the things that seem simple, but the things that saved New Jersey and got us back. And that is we must practice source control, we must wear face coverings."