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State News

Five People Charged in Connection with Interstate Gun Trafficking Conspiracy

TRENTON, N.J. – Three New Jersey men and a man and woman from Florida have been charged with conspiring to illegally sell firearms, including handguns and a semi-automatic rifle, in and around Monmouth County, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.

Enrique Quijada, 23, a/k/a “El Enano 13,” a/k/a “Kike,” of Freehold, New Jersey; Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria, 30, a/k/a “Chino,” of Bartow, Florida; his brother, Waldin Espinosa-Ozoria, 31, a/k/a “Manin,” of Freehold, New Jersey; Javier Rodriguez-Valpais, 31, a/k/a “Broly,” of Morganville, New Jersey; and Jacquelyn Dejesus, 41, of Bartow, Florida, are each charged by criminal complaint with one count of conspiracy to engage in the business of unlicensed firearms dealing. Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria and Rodriguez-Valpais are each additionally charged with one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria and Dejesus are also charged with one count of unlawfully selling a firearm to an individual that they knew did not reside in their state of residence, namely Florida.

Quijada, Rodriguez-Valpais and Dejesus were arrested today are scheduled to appear by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Zahid N. Quraishi. Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria and Waldin Espinosa-Ozoria remain at large,

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From May 2020 through September 2020, Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria, Waldin Espinosa-Ozoria, Quijada, Rodriguez-Valpais, and Dejesus were members of a gun trafficking conspiracy that spanned from Florida to New Jersey. Dejesus allegedly assisted Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria – the alleged leader of the conspiracy – by acting as a “straw purchaser” of firearms in Florida.  Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria and Dejesus then transported the firearms from Florida to Monmouth County, where Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria, assisted by Waldin Espinosa-Ozoria and Rodriguez-Valpais, allegedly sold the firearms to an individual working at the direction and supervision of the FBI. In addition, Rodriguez-Valpais allegedly sold a .223 caliber semi-automatic rifle to Quijada, who, in turn, allegedly sold the rifle to an individual working at the direction and supervision of the FBI.

The counts of conspiracy to engage in the business of unlicensed firearms dealing and unlawfully selling a firearm to an unlicensed resident of another state each carry a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, Newark Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr., with the investigation leading to the charges and arrest. He also thanked the FBI Tampa Division, the ATF Newark and Tampa Field Divisions, and the Freehold Borough, New Jersey, Police Department for their assistance in the investigation.

This case is part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensured that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see: https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian .

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ian D. Brater of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Trenton.

The charges and allegations contained in the complaints are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Uncategorized

Paterson man was beaten to death after he shot someone in the head, says defense attorney

18-year-old Nicolas Reyes allegedly shot a man in the head. Four of the victim’s friends chased the alleged shooter down and brutally beat him, punching, kicking, and stomping on his head, leading to his death.

One of the four, Tyheem T. Jones, 37-year-old, of Hawthorne, has been charged with murder. He was initially charged with attempted murder, but the charges were upgraded after Reyes’ death.

“I f–ked him up,” Jones allegedly told police. During the interview, police saw Jones had blood on his sneakers.

Police found Jones pacing back and forth in the middle of Auburn Street near Godwin Avenue while breathing heavily and sweating profusely at about 4 a.m. on August 27.

By September 15, police arrested Jones and a juvenile suspect for the attack.

“If you look at the matter, you see a brutal beating, a brutal jump of a person that led to his demise. But it wasn’t just a person beating a person for no reason,” said Jones’ attorney Mark Bailey during a detention hearing on September 15. “He [Jones] was talking to this friend, someone shoots his friend in the head, and the guys from the neighborhood run after this guy, and they beat him. Now when they beat him, my client is not the only one beating him. It’s a jump.”

Bailey made the argument to suggest Jones is not a threat to the community, a standard used to determine whether to release someone accused of committing a crime from jail.

“I do not dispute the factual allegations that this was in response to a shooting incident which occurred prior to the assault,” said Passaic County chief assistant prosecutor Jason Statuto. A 31-year-old Paterson man was shot on Godwin Avenue and Summer Street just before the attack.

Reyes was chased several blocks after allegedly shooting the victim. He was caught and beaten for over 13 minutes by Jones and three other suspects, said Statuto in court. The attack was caught on surveillance camera.

Jones was allegedly “the main aggressor” in the beating, said Statuto. Jones allegedly pistol-whipped Reyes, who was on the ground for much of the 13 minutes.

Reyes is seen being punched and kicked in the head.

Jones is allegedly “seen jumping on the victim’s head with two feet as he’s leaning against the car,” said Statuto.

Bailey told the court his client has been trying to stay out of trouble.

“Since 2016 to 2020 he hasn’t been in trouble,” said Bailey. On May 14, 2010, Jones was given a six-year prison sentence for aggravated assault in another case.

Passaic County Superior Court judge Donna Gallucio pointed out Jones has another aggravated assault conviction from 2019.

Statuto said Jones has four disorderly conduct and eight felony convictions. Among the felonies are aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault, and terroristic threats. He was on probation when he allegedly took part in the deadly beating.

Bailey said Jones has two children that he supports. Jones has worked at a kiosk at the Paramus mall, he said.

Jones could face life in prison.

Citing possible risk of flight and witness intimidation, the judge ordered Jones be detained at the Passaic County Jail.

Jones has been held at the jail since his arrest last month.

Categories
Local News

Paterson getting $3.4 million to remove lead from low-income housing units

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded a $3.4 million grant to Paterson to remove lead from low-income housing units.

Funds from the Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction program will be used to remove lead from 66 housing units with children.

“In 2020, no child should live in a home that’s dangerous to their health, and we must continue investing federal resources to ensure all federally-assisted homes are free of lead hazards. The cost of inaction is far too great for our kids and our communities,” U.S. senator Bob Menendez, ranking member of the Senate’s housing subcommittee, said.

Paterson has a serious lead problem because of its old housing stock. In 2019, there were 210 cases of children tested positive for elevated levels of lead in their blood. In 2018, there were 318 cases, according to data officials made public last year.

“We must especially protect children from exposure, and that begins with securing federal awards like this. These funds will help Paterson identify, treat, and prevent lead contamination in our neighborhoods so future generations can be protected from incidental contact or ingestion,” Rep. Bill Pascrell said.

Children under six are extremely vulnerable to lead poisoning which can slow physical and mental development.

“We already know that the potential health impacts of lead poisoning can be devastating to a child, so we have an obligation to secure the resources needed to address these hazards. This federal investment will help the City of Paterson mitigate the threat of lead exposure in homes and protect New Jersey families,” U.S. senator Cory Booker said.

More than 3,000 children in New Jersey are diagnosed with lead poisoning every year, according to the New Jersey Department of Health.

Mayor Andre Sayegh said the city has tried to address its lead problem, but has been held back by lack of funding.

“The missing component throughout this time was funding to provide the construction improvements necessary for lead abatement, as it can be cost prohibitive to most homeowners, especially in low-income communities, and must be done in a professionally prescribed manner. This grant will go a long way in providing much needed assistance in the abatement of this first group of 66 homes in the City of Paterson,” Sayegh said.

Categories
Crime & Safety Local News

Paterson police charge six for prostitution, cocaine at Totowa Avenue bar

The police raided the Corona’s Sport, Bar, and Liquor on Totowa Avenue, arresting six people, on Friday after receiving “numerous” nuisance complaints for loud music, fights, and after-hours parties, according to public safety director Jerry Speziale.

Police arrested Alfonso Martinez, 55, of Fair Lawn; Alexia H. Wallace, 34, of Westfield; Joselie Conse-Valerio, 34, of Paterson; Madelyn Castillo, 20, of Jersey City; Kirchi Mendoza, 21, of Paterson; and Pamela Estevez, 26, of Cartaret.

Martinez, owner of the bar, has been charged with maintaining a house of prostitution, promoting prostitution, and maintaining a nuisance. His two managers, Wallace and Conse-Valerio, were also charged with the same three offenses.

Castillo was charged with four drug offenses for selling two wax folds of cocaine to an undercover detective. Police seized $82 in cash from Castillo.

Mendoza and Estevez were charged with prostitution offenses.

Katherine Ortiz-Valdez, 18, of Perth Amboy, an employee of the bar, was cited for underage drinking.

Police also discovered a 17-year-old at the bar at 439 Totowa Avenue. The teen was taken to the police station for her safety and released to a parent. Detectives observed multiple social distancing violations at the business that were referred to the Passaic County Prosecutors Office, police said.

Police confiscated $578 in cash from the six arrestees.

Categories
Covid-19 State News

NJ hits highest 1-day COVID cases reported since June 5

TRENTON, N.J. — On a day when New York announced its highest one-day total of new coronavirus cases since June, New Jersey showed equally concerning signs.

Gov. Phil Murphy announced 760 new COVID-19 cases Saturday. That’s the state’s highest one-day total since June 5. The governor also announced six new people reported dead due to the virus.

The most new cases were reported in Ocean County with 240. Bergen County, the original hub of the state’s virus outbreak and still the county with the most cases in the state, reported 61 new cases, sixth most of the state’s 21 counties on Saturday. Every county in the state posted at least three new cases.

To date, 202,850 New Jerseyans have tested positive for coronavirus. At least 14,312 have died from COVID-19.

Categories
Crime & Safety State News

Leader of Nationwide Credit Card Fraud Affecting Thousands of Account Holders Sentenced to 110 Months in Prison

NEWARK, N.J. – The leader of a multi-million dollar conspiracy that used stolen credit card account information to make fraudulent retail purchases around the country was sentenced today to 110 months in prison, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Hamilton Eromosele, 29, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martini to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Judge Martini imposed the sentence by videoconference today.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From at least 2015 through 2018, Eromosele led a network of individuals, based in the New Jersey/New York area, who made short trips around the United States in order to use stolen credit card information to purchase gift cards, flights, hotels, rental cars, and other goods and services. Eromosele obtained stolen credit card information through the “dark web” and other sources, which he then provided to conspirators. Eromosele often recruited women via social media, with promises of easy profits, to fly to various locations to make fraudulent purchases. He collected his conspirators’ fraudulently purchased gift cards or luxury goods, sold them for cash, and dispersed a percentage of the proceeds to the conspirators.

Conspirators made trips to numerous other states – including Colorado, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Montana, Indiana, Ohio, Arizona, and Georgia – and made over $3.5 million in fraudulent purchases using over 4,000 stolen credit card accounts.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Martini sentenced Eromosele to three years of supervised release.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito credited special agents of the U.S. Secret Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Mark McKevitt, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Macurdy of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.

Categories
Local News

Paterson spending almost $500,000 to begin renovation of Bauerle Fieldhouse

Municipal officials have approved a nearly $500,000 contract to begin the $1.6 million renovation of the Bauerle Fieldhouse.

Ridgewood-based Practical LLC was awarded a $496,000 contract on Tuesday for phase one of the project.

“This phase is just interior demo, prep work, and the entire exterior enclosure of the building,” said municipal engineer Fred Margron last week. He said phase one includes interior demolition, new doors, new windows, new roof, new parapet wall to protect the roof, and preparation for phase two such as electrical and carpentry work.

Five firms submitted bids ranging from $240,000 to $824,000 for the work. Municipal officials deemed Practical to be the “lowest responsible bidder.” The firm submitted the second lowest bid for the work. The firm that bid $240,000 failed to provide the city with surety bond documents, according to public records.

Mayor Andre Sayegh had announced late last year his administration would undertake a $1.6 million renovation of the Bauerle Fieldhouse. Phase one has to be finished within four months, according to public records, before phase two can begin.

Money for the renovation are coming from the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.

“The expectations must be bigger and better for our community,” said councilman Michael Jackson. He called the mayor’s plan a “simple remodel.” He wanted a bigger expansion of the fieldhouse.

Jackson refused to vote on awarding the contract on Tuesday. Contract was awarded in a 6-0 vote.

Councilman Luis Velez, chairman of public works, pointed out this is phase one. He said there’s multiple phases. He said adding a second level to the fieldhouse is not possible because the foundation of structure won’t support it.

“Kids are using that place without a proper restroom, proper lockers, or a proper gym,” said Velez. “We need to give them something, we need to fix this it’s deteriorating.”

Velez urged the mayor to convince the Board of Education to pitch in funds for paving the vicinity of the fieldhouse.

The roof of the fieldhouse, located at 98 Oak Street, has been leaking because of neglect and poor maintenance. Municipal officials said the building has been neglected for decades.

Bauerle Fieldhouse is used by the school district.

Categories
Local News

PASSAIC COUNTY ANNOUNCES OCTOBER MOBILE TESTING DATES

(Passaic County, New Jersey) – The Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders continues to offer free mobile testing to all Passaic County residents. Today, the County announced their October mobile testing dates.

In addition to Passaic County’s mobile testing program, the County also continues to offer free at-home testing to all county residents. Both the mobile and at-home testing programs are conducted using a saliva test, administered by Vault Health.

“It’s important that we continue to offer free testing to our residents. While we’re glad the number of positive cases is low in our county, we want to make sure we take every preventative measurement possible to continue to keep those numbers low and prevent a possible second wave. Every person in our community matters, and along with social distancing and using caution, we want to ensure residents have access to free testing,” stated Freeholder T.J. Best.

The mobile testing operations will be conducted in various municipalities throughout the month of October. Residents will receive free testing, with proof of residency. Prescription and insurance are not required.  The October mobile testing schedule is listed below, no appointment necessary*:

 Date  Location
 October 2nd  Hawthorne Pool
Wagaraw Road, Hawthorne
 October 9th  Boys & Girls Club
8 Memorial Drive, Woodland Park
 October 10th  High Mountain Middle School
515 Mountain Road, North Haledon
 October 15th  St. Gerard Majella Catholic Church
501 West Broadway, Paterson
 October 17th  Pompton Lakes High School
44 Lakeside Avenue, Pompton Lakes
 October 22nd  Bloomingdale Borough Hall
101 Hamburg Turnpike, Bloomingdale
 October 24th  Little Falls Township Hall
225 Main Street, Little Falls
 October 30th  William Paterson University
1600 Valley Road, Wayne
Categories
Covid-19 Local News

Paterson preparing to ramp up Covid-19 testing ahead of possible cold season ‘surge’ in cases

Municipal officials are preparing to ramp up testing for a possible “surge” in Covid-19 cases ahead of the approaching cold season.

The City Council approved approximately $843,000 to fund the plan to ramp up testing using a mobile unit. A $750,000 contract was awarded to LabCorp and another $30,000 contract was awarded to St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center for coronavirus testing on Tuesday. Staffing cost for the mobile unit is $63,400, according to a plan presented to the council.

“If there’s a surge in cases in the fall, we have to be prepared,” health officer Paul Persuad told the City Council, which also serves as the Board of Health, last week. He said testing and isolating people are the only tools available to contain a possible surge in case.

Paterson has registered 344 deaths from Covid-19. On Tuesday, the city reported 9 new infections.

Presently, Persaud’s contact tracing team, cited as a national model, has to refer people for testing to other entities. Under the new plan, the Division of Health will administer the tests directly to residents.

The mobile testing unit will take testing to various parts of Paterson. A key aim is to identify asymptomatic cases within the community. The mobile unit will also handle testing during non-traditional hours.

“There’s more testing that needs to be done,” said councilwoman Ruby Cotton, who lost her husband Ed Cotton to the virus in April.

Mayor Andre Sayegh had announced the mobile testing plan in May, before other cities or counties put together their mobile testing efforts.

“Why wasn’t this done earlier? We’ve been six months with this pandemic,” asked councilwoman Maritza Davila last week.

Davila never received a concrete answer.

Sayegh’s administration was too slow in obtaining proposals and did not exercise emergency powers to award the needed contracts to get mobile testing going.

“The county came in and they said they are going to do testing. After that we focused heavily on disease investigation and contact tracing,” said Persaud in response to Davila’s question last week. “Our focus during those months was mostly on disease investigation and tracing.”

Council members have viewed the mayor’s handling of the pandemic as a failure. He couldn’t get widespread testing going in the early days of the pandemic for residents. He put together an informal task force of his cabinet members, none of whom had any public health experience, that couldn’t provide basic information to the public about the spread of the virus in the city in the early days of the pandemic. One of them provided bizarre advice to people to avoid contracting the virus. But lately the mayor has been sharing an alternative narrative about his performance by citing two New York Times stores, one featured emergency medical technicians in hazmat suits responding to 911 calls and another featured the contact tracing team.

Sayegh had private doctors set up testing sites in May, long after cases peaked in Paterson.

Councilman Michael Jackson said residents did not have adequate access to testing in the early months of the pandemic. He said he contracted Covid-19 and went to Pompton Lakes to get tested.

The lab is charging $100 per nasal swab test, Persaud told the council.

Mobile testing is expected to begin in the first week of October, said business administrator Kathleen Long.

“We’re getting ready for a second wave. We’re fighting the war before going into it,” added councilman Luis Velez.

Categories
Sports

Potential Picks for the New Jersey Devils at 18th and 20th Overall in the 2020 NHL Draft

The 2020 NHL Draft is set to finally take place in a couple of weeks. The New Jersey Devils are poised to add a lot of talent to their organization as they set to pick at 7th, 18th, and 20th overall. In next week’s post we’ll take a look at some of the potential options for the 7th overall selection. Today’s post will focus on the prospects that have a realistic chance of being available for the Devils at 18th and 20th overall. You will notice that this post is forward heavy, that’s not to neglect defensemen but to speak to the quality and quantity of this year’s forward class.

To help come up with the group of prospects that should be available at 18th or 20th overall, I’m going to utilize Colin Cudmore’s (@CudmoreColin) “Expected Pick Range” tool. This takes rankings from over 30 sources to form a consensus on the range a prospect is expected to be selected in. You can read about his methodology on Silver Seven, SBN’s Ottawa Senators blog. You can check out his compiled rankings on this Google Sheet, and use this data viz for another view.

I’m also going to reference prospect projection models from Hockey Prospecting and GT Analytics to further take a look at these players. In terms of prospect evaluation, a lot of my opinions have been formed via draft guides such as the Hockey Prospect Black Book or Elite Prospects Draft Guide. Now let’s see which player’s are potential options for the New Jersey Devils.

Potential Available Players

In the above table, you will see the range the player is expected to go in, his name, position, 2019-20 team and league, and basic scoring stats. The last 5 columns come from the projection models from Hockey Prospecting and GT Analytics. Of course, these aren’t everything, but I do think they can help provide some context for what a prospect’s potential could be and how likely they are to reach that potential. A quick explanation of these columns:

Star% (Hockey Prospecting): Probability of a player turning into an offensive star (0.70+ Pts/GP for forwards, 0.45+ Pts/GP for defensemen).

NHLer% (Hockey Prospecting): Probability of a player turning into a NHLer (200+ games).

Here is the Hockey Prospecting Player Comparison Tool.

sNHLer% (GT Analytics): Likelihood a player reaches 150 NHL games.

pNHLppg (GT Analytics): Projected points per game at the NHL level.

Prospect Score (GT Analytics): Accounts for the probability (sNHLer%) and projected production (pNHLppg) of a prospect in one metric. You can read all about their methodology for these metrics here and search their draft rankings here.

The below sections will break these prospects down by separating the forwards and defensemen. I’ll also include a “Longshots” section of players that I think could fall or rise into range for the Devils picks at 18th and 20th overall. Finally, I note which players would be my preferred targets.

Forwards

Here we have a group of 14 forwards to look at as potential picks for the Devils. Of course, quite a few of these players will be gone by the time the 18th or 20th picks are ready to be made but some of them will remain on the board. Out of this group, Hockey Prospecting is highest on the star% for Seth Jarvis, followed by Jacob Perreault, and then a group of Rodion Amirov, Dawson Mercer, and Connor Zary. In terms of playing in 200+ NHL games, Hockey Prospecting is highest on Jacob Perreault, followed by a group of Rodion Amirov, Dawson Mercer, Connor Zary, and then Seth Jarvis. Overall, the GT Analytics prospect score is highest on Seth Jarvis, followed by Connor Zary, Brendan Brisson, and Jack Quinn. The group of Dawson Mercer, Mavrik Bourque, Lukas Reichel, Jacob Perreault, and Noel Gunler isn’t too far behind Quinn. Now let’s take a look at these prospects based on where they spent their 2019-20 seasons. I included Jan Mysak in the CHL group since he came over midway through the year from the Czech Republic.

The CHL Forwards (plus a Czech)

C Seth Jarvis (Portland – WHL): Seth Jarvis is perhaps the best prospect out of these forwards and I would be surprised if he fell to the Devils. Jenna profiled Jarvis back in April and mentioned that despite his small frame, Jarvis is a highly skilled prospect. Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst praised Jarvis as “a slick and cerebral forward with excellent hands.” Justin Froese of Future Considerations noted that Jarvis is an “offensive driver and all around 200-foot player.” Jarvis seems to without a doubt be one of the top offensive players in this year’s class due to his versatile skill. If you want a player that can contribute in all three zones and make an impact, then Jarvis is your guy. One thing that I did think was interesting reading the Hockey Prospect Black Book is that numerous scouts referred to him as a winger. Perhaps that’s where his position will be at the NHL level so it’s something to keep in mind.

RW Jack Quinn (Ottawa – OHL): Chris profiled Quinn back in April, noting that the wing is a natural goal scorer. 52 goals in 62 games for Ottawa last season will certainly help that perception. Brock Otten of OHL Prospects is high on Quinn and mentioned in this post that Quinn led the OHL in even strength goals while carrying a line for Ottawa as Rossi was on a different one. Otten points out that Quinn played in all situations, was able to create his own scoring chances, and has a high level shot. Hockey Prospect was also really high on Quinn’s hockey sense, compete level, and skill. I don’t know if he’ll still be around for the Devils at 18th but if he is, he’s certainly worth a look.

C Dawson Mercer (Drummondville/Chicoutimi – QMJHL): Alex profiled Mercer back in April. The product of Newfoundland has found a lot of success in the QMJHL. Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst praised Mercer’s hockey sense, passing, playmaking ability, and elite shot in this report. Scouts in the Hockey Prospect Black Book have called Mercer one of the smartest players in the draft. It seems like he just really needs to work on his skating but has a bright future ahead of him.

C Connor Zary (Kamloops – WHL): Gerard profiled Zary back in April. He noted that Zary is a scoring center with good leadership. Zary plays in all situations due to his above average hockey sense. He has a natural goal scoring touch though his skating is a weak part of his game. Some scouts have made note that he may have to switch to the wing at the professional level because of it. Regardless, with his goal scoring and playmaking talent, he projects to have a solid chance to make it at the NHL level and make an impact. I think he will be off the board by the time the Devils select but I would definitely be interested if he slides that far.

C/LW Jan Mysak (HC Litvinov/Hamilton – Czech/OHL): CJ profiled Mysak in April, noting the the center plays like a “Coleman-style” winger. Mysak is an interesting prospect as he has already played in a men’s league in his native Czech Republic with success. He also had success when he switched over to Hamilton in the OHL last season, showing that he can play well against his peers in North America. Tony Ferrari of Dobber Prospects made note in April that Mysak thinks the game at a high level and works well with his teammates. Hockey Prospect had mixed reviews on him with some scouts thinking that he has the tools to be a scoring winger at the NHL level but they worry he may not be able to put it all together. They aren’t as high on his hockey sense as other outlets are.

C Mavrik Bourque (Shawinigan – QMJHL): Chris profiled Bourque back in April. Bourque has high skill and hockey sense which makes him an intriguing option that I think has a solid chance to be around for either of the Devils picks. His coach noted that Bourque’s vision allows him to make offensive and defensive plays as well as an effective special teams player. Scouts have noted that Shawinigan’s offense ran through him and he really drove the play. His playmaking abilities don’t seem to get as much attention as they deserve considering how effective he is. I think he could be an under the radar pick as far as 1st rounders are concerned.

RW Jacob Perreault (Sarnia – OHL): Devin profiled Perreault back in April. McKeen’s Hockey praised Perreault’s speed, creativity, and goal scoring instincts. They did mention that his play in the neutral and defensive zone leaves a lot to be desired. Still, the Sarnia Sting right wing has an elite level shot, perhaps the best in this year’s class depending on who you ask. Hockey Prospect likes Perreault’s hockey sense, skill, and skating but does note that they want to see more from his compete level. I can see some teams having him high on their draft boards and others low in the 1st round. I would be thrilled if he slipped to one of the Devils picks but I’m not expecting it.

C Hendrix Lapierre (Chicoutimi – QMJHL): John profiled Lapierre back in April, noting that the very talented playmaker is a force when he’s on the ice. Unfortunately, Lapierre has a significant injury history and missed almost all of his draft year. Lapierre has excellent hockey sense which allows him to make plays for himself and teammates. His puck handling skills are above average. He can play in all situations. There’s no doubting he’s one of the most talented players in this draft class. As I mentioned earlier, Lapierre has had concussion issues and a cervical dysfunction, so he carries a lot of risk for any team drafting him. It’s enough to scare me off though I do think he will be around for the Devils selections.

The NCAA and USHL Forwards

C/LW Dylan Holloway (Wisconsin – NCAA): Devin profiled Holloway back in April. Holloway spent his draft season playing college hockey which is a feat in itself considering how many other players his age are in the USHL. He struggled to adjust to the college game at first but finished the year strong and was a top 10 scorer for Wisconsin. Holloway split time between center and left wing with many scouts thinking he can play either position a the professional level. He already has a pro frame and many scouts seem to think he’s likely to at least reach his floor as a NHL player. There does seem to be some concern about his offensive potential and how it compares to the other forwards around him. He can skate though and if he can assert his physicality more with his frame, then I think he’s a future NHLer. I expect him to be around should the Devils want to take a chance on him.

C Brendan Brisson (Chicago – USHL): Alex profiled the USHL Breakout Player of the Year back in April. In that profile he referenced a scouting report from the Prospect Network which praised Brisson for being “an exceptionally skilled player, dynamic playmaker, and elite skater” just to name a few things. I did read a few scouts in the Hockey Prospect Black Book give differing opinions of his skating but still praise his hockey sense and quick decision making. Brisson had a huge year for a very talented Chicago Steel team which could make his numbers seem inflated. Though he does deserve credit for being a huge part of that team and producing at the rate of a potential 1st rounder. It will be interesting to see if he goes in the mid-1st or if he drops.

The European Forwards

LW/RW Noel Gunler (Lulea HF – SHL): CJ profiled Gunler back in April. Gunler is one of the most polarizing prospects in this year’s draft class. Some scouts seem to think he should be close to the top 10 while others have him towards the end of the 1st round. Gunler has quite a bit of professional experience with Lulea HF in the SHL over the past 2 seasons. Last year, he was a full time player, though in a limited role, and bounced around the line up. At 6’2” he has a solid frame to grow into. Gunler is considered to have one of the best shot’s in this year’s draft class and possesses a passing game that is capable of creating offense. Some scouts would like to see more consistency from him though I think what he’s done against men already is fairly impressive. Like I said before, scouts seem all over the place on this guy but I think he would be worth a shot for the Devils.

LW Rodion Amirov (Ufa – KHL/MHL): Alex profiled Amirov back in April, highlighting his strong 200-foot game. Amirov split time between the KHL and MHL, dominating the junior level and not producing much in very limited action at the senior level. I’ve seen him described as a two-way winger that plays a finesse game. Numerous scouts have mentioned that he has NHL level talent but needs to fill out his frame and play with strength effectively in order to be able to implement at the NHL level. His game is well rounded due to his above average hockey sense, compete level, offensive skills, and skating. It will be interesting to see where he goes because I wouldn’t be surprised to see him as high as the top 10 and as low as a late 1st.

LW Lukas Reichel (Eisbaren Berlin – DEL): I profiled Reichel back in April, focusing on his two-way game and the fact that he excelled in Germany’s top league as a 17 year old. One of the scouting reports I referenced in that post came from Jokke Nevalainen of Dobber Prospects who had plenty of praise for Reichel’s skating, puck skills, and shot. He also mentioned that Reichel already plays a pro-style game in battling for pucks which makes sense considering he’s had to play against men. Hockey Prospect views his skating, hockey sense, and skill level as the best attributes of his game. This is definitely a player that I would be interested in.

C Marat Khusnutdinov (SKA – MHL): Ben Kerr of Last Word on Hockey has this scouting report on Khusnutdinov. In it he notes that though lacking size, Khusnutdinov has the skills to be a top 6 center and the ability to be a defensive asset. Hockey Prospect seems most impressed with his skating followed by his hockey sense and compete lvel. It seems like Khusnutdinov has 1st round talent but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him fall, perhaps deep into the 2nd round. I’ve seen rankings and mock drafts place him all over the place but I get the feeling that most scouts have a positive view of his game. Breaking into the SKA KHL team would be amazing for his development.

Defensemen

Only 2 defensemen made this group as the likes of Jamie Drysdale and Jake Sanderson are expected to be off the board by the time the Devils pick again. Both of these defenseman had fantastic draft seasons in the WHL in 2019-20. Hockey Prospecting sees both Guhle and Schneider as having the same star and NHLer potential while GT Analytics is higher on Schneider’s likelihood of being a NHLer while Guhle has the higher offensive potential.

LD Kaiden Guhle (Prince Albert – WHL): Back in May, I profiled Guhle noting that he was a two-way defenseman with size, speed, and excellent gap control. One of the scouting reports I referenced in that post was from Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst who noted that Guhle played in all-situations for Prince Albert, logging a ton of minutes. He specifically praised Guhle’s mobility, hard shot, his gap control, sticking positioning, and timing. He did mention that his passing game is basic which suggests that Guhle could improve that skill to improve his offensive capabilities. Defensively it seems like Guhle is a very sound prospect. I’ve read one scouting report in the Hockey Prospect Black Book which suggests that Guhle already is physically capable of playing in the NHL with his size.

RD Braden Schneider (Brandon – WHL): Mike profiled Schneider back in April, noting that he was a big, smart, physical defender with two-way potential. One of the reports he referenced was from Tony Ferrari of Dobber Prospects. In that report, Ferrari praises Schneider’s puck movement, positioning, gap control, and physicality. From what I’ve read in Hockey Prospect’s Black Book, it seems that most scouts question Schneider’s offensive potential but have a lot of praise for his puck moving and defensive abilities.

Longshots

The draft can be a very unpredictable event so I feel like I should briefly mention some players that could be on the Devils radar should they either fall or be ranked higher on private draft boards than public outlets. I don’t expect these players to be options but you never know what’s going to happen.

The first candidate that I think could fall is goaltender Yaroslav Askarov from SKA St. Petersburg. He’s one of the most hyped, talented goaltenders in recent years so I think he’ll go in the top 10, perhaps to Minnesota at #9. Sometimes teams can be wary of taking a goaltender that early so I do think there is a small chance he slips into the middle part of the first round. Should he be there at #18, then the Devils may have to seriously consider taking him.

The second candidate that I think could fall is defenseman Jake Sanderson from the USNTDP. I fully expect to see him be the next defender drafted after Jamie Drysdale, perhaps to Winnipeg at #10. I have seen some outlets suggests that some teams are high on defenseman Braden Schneider though. That doesn’t necessarily mean Sanderson would fall, but there could be a very small chance it happens. If he’s available to the Devils, then I think it’s something they would have to consider.

A few forwards I could see potentially rising to the 20th spot include John-Jason Peterka (EHC Munich – DEL), Zion Nybeck (HV71 J20 – SuperElit), and Sam Colangelo (Chicago – USHL). A few defensemen I could see challenging for that spot include Helge Grans (Malmo J20 – SuperElit) and Emil Andrae (HV71 J20 – SuperElit). To be clear, I’m not advocating for or against these players. These are just some of the names I have seen go higher in mock drafts than their rankings would indicate.

My Targets

In terms of targets, I’m only going to focus on the players that I identified from Colin Cudomre’s “Expect Pick Range” tool. I really like center Seth Jarvis, center Dawson Mercer, and center Connor Zary though I expect those 3 to be gone by the time the Devils make these seletions. I think wingers that score goals such as Jacob Perreault and Jack Quinn also come off board before the Devils pick but I would definitely have interest in them if they are still available. Left wing Rodion Amirov is another player I would be intrigued by but expect to go before the Devils pick.

Realistic targets out of this group that I have interest in are forwards such as Mavrik Bourque, Lukas Reichel, Noel Gunler, and Brendan Brisson. I also really like both of the defensemen in this group in Kaiden Guhle and Braden Schneider.

I’m not as high on forwards Dylan Holloway, Jan Mysak, and Marat Khusnutdinov compared to the rest of the group. The only player in this group I would actively avoid is Hendrix Lapierre since I would rather avoid an Adrian Foster situation.

Your Take

Which of these prospects do you find most intriguing? Which of these prospects would you avoid? How would you rank these players? Are there any prospects not mentioned in this post that you think could be options at 18th or 20th overall? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!