First thing – Congratulations to the Blackhawks and their fans! A great Stanley Cup Playoffs capped by an exciting Stanley Cup Final. Only way it could have been better is if we had a full 82 game season and the Devils made the dance.
So onto the next bit of business on the NHL calendar (well, outside of the opening of the compliance buyout window). This year’s NHL Entry Draft is in Newark, at Prudential Center, marking the first time the Devils have been the host team for the NHL Draft.
So if you’re headed to Newark to see Calgary ruin the days of three fine young men (they have 3 picks in the first round), the PuckBuddys tasked me to write a quick travelogue for beautiful Newark. It won’t be as extensive as Adam’s fantastic piece about Pittsburgh last year, but I will do what I can…
No matter what Newark Mayor (and NJ Senatorial Candidate and Great American) Cory Booker might say, Newark isn’t in the midst of a renaissance (yet?). CNNMoney says Newark has the third highest robbery rate among the nation’s cities, so travel light and go with a buddy. (A PuckBuddy, if at all possible.)
So let’s start here:
This is Newark Penn Station. It’s (maybe) a ten minute walk from The Rock, and it’s your ticket out of Newark. Trains run out of this station to all points. NJ Transit trains can take you to explore the majestic northwestern suburbs (home to yours truly, 75 minutes away) or head to Asbury Park (2 hours), or Atlantic City (3 and a half hours). Philadelphia is only 90 minutes away by train, should you want to stop by the Wells Fargo Center and laugh at Paul Holmgren (seriously? Mark Streit?!).
Most likely, you’ll want to go to New York City (maybe to see if my gum-chewing crush Alain Vigneault is getting settled into his new digs). Getting to NYC is a snap, a PATH train from Newark gets you to the World Trade Center in 25 minutes. You can grab a PATH train (and then change at Journal Square) or take a NJ Transit train to midtown destinations. Remember, it’s Pride Week in NYC. Something fabulous is always going on in NYC, but during Pride Week the glitter factor is ratcheted up a few more notches. (Cher is performing at the pier dance this year. C-H-E-R.)
HOWEVER – when you are in Newark, here’s a few places I can recommend for dining experiences within (safe) walking distance of The Rock.
If you like Iberian (Spanish/Portuguese) food, Newark has several excellent places to go. My personal favorites are Don Pepe’s (homemade sangria is a wonderful thing) and Iberia Peninsula (the patio is excellent for outdoor eating and people watching).
If you’re looking for bar food, we’ve often pre-gamed at MMM Bello’s Pub on Market Street. Reasonable prices, a really nice beer selection, and food you can imagine pre-lap band Governor Chris Christie eating. And since they’re not playing the Flyers, you won’t have to put up with this pile of out-of-town drunks.
There are a bunch of options right next to the arena. The best of these is probably the (fairly new) Dino BBQ, which is located directly next to Championship Plaza. Pretty much behind The Iron Man’s right skate.
If you wanted to catch a show in Newark, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) is a stunning venue to see live music and theater. Unfortunately, the only act booked there this week is Gabriel Iglesias. My guess is the Venn Diagram of his fans and PuckBuddys readers has very little overlap. So maybe next time you’re in town you check out NJPAC, okay?
And now to fulfill my contractual obligations as the Devils correspondent, a little something about the home team: The Devils (courtesy of their disappointing season) hold the 9th pick in the draft. They’re woefully thin in the system on forward prospects and this is one of the deepest drafts in years. Normally, the number of impact player prospects peters out around the fifth pick, but this season, I’d say there are at least eight of those types of players. Which makes having the 9th pick a bit unlucky. However, if one of the first 8 teams takes a flyer on someone outside of that elite group, the Devils become the beneficiaries. Those options might be Elias Lindholm, Sean Monahan, or Valeri Nichushkin. All three would be great gets for the Devils.
The scenario (a team in the top 8 taking a flyer) is also the only way I can see the Devils taking a defenseman at 9. If Darnell Nurse (or, far less likely, Seth Jones) were available at 9, Lou might have to make a value-over-need pick. Assuming those things don’t happen, Lou and the Devils should take a scoring winger. the best one on the board is probably Hunter Shinkaruk. He doesn’t have elite size, but he’s got skill and speed and the ability to finish. If the Devils want to continue drafting former Rangers player’s kids, Max Domi might be a nice counterpart to last year’s #1 pick, Stefan Matteau.
Have a great time at the draft. The drinks are on me (if my boss allows me to expense them). Enjoy The Rock, be smart on the streets, and Go Devils!!