USA Hockey's NTDP Boasts 8 First-Round NHL Entry Draft Picks

Teenage hockey’s traveling circus, better known as USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (NTDP), took its high-wire hockey magicians to its latest big stage, the NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver this past weekend. An astounding eight first-round draft picks came from this one collection of supreme hockeyists, and all but kingpin Jack Hughes will be coming to the NCAA to ply their trade next season. At first blush, this is great news for the sport, but the benefits are fleeting. More on that later, but first the headliners, future stars going to brand name schools: 

Alex Turcotte, the fleet playmaking center. He went fifth overall (L.A.) and will be heading to Wisconsin.

Trevor Zegras, a dynamic wingman with 360-degree vision, was drafted ninth overall (Anaheim) and takes his act to Boston University.

Power forward Matt Boldy (Minnesota Wild, 12th overall) brings his deadly wrist shot and soft hands to Boston College, a short commute from his home in Millis, Massachusetts. He’ll be joined in Chestnut Hill by NTDP teammate Spencer Knight, the first goaltender taken in the draft at No. 13 by Florida. 

This was the portion of the first round where the NTDP hijacked NBC Sports Network, as NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman proceeded to call out four consecutive products from The Program, all heading to college this fall. Immaculate defenseman Cam York, a Michigan commit, was snatched up by Philadelphia at 14, and the diminutive scorer Cole Caufield was picked next by Montreal. Four straight first rounders, all impact players who have already faced—and beaten—the best in the NCAA and IIHF. 

Caufield, who has been described as the next Alex DeBrincat (41 goals for the Chicago Blackhawks last year), will join his pal Turcotte at Wisconsin. The two snipers combined for five points a game at the NTDP last seasons. Off-ice officials in Madison should check their pens for ink in anticipation of the scoring barrage at the Kohl Center.

The final NTDP first rounder at the 2019 draft was John Beecher, a tall and sturdy center who’s heading to Michigan before getting inked by Boston. The Bruins are counting on Beecher as a top-nine stalwart for the next decade, once he’s done in Ann Arbor.

There they are, the NTDP’s magnificent seven, American hockey’s answer to the Flying Wallendas, scheduled to perform under the biggest tents in NCAA hockey: Boston College, Boston University, Wisconsin, and Michigan. One can hardly blame the sport’s pundits for projecting great success for those schools, institutions filled with dreams of 30-win seasons and NCAA Regional domination. If recent history is any indicator, however, those pundits will be wrong.

Loading up lineups with USA national team studs turns out to be fool’s gold, a recipe for NCAA elimination. No program had more NTDP teen sensations than BU the last three seasons, and yet they never made it to the Frozen Four, failing even to reach the national tournament last year. Ditto for Boston College, although BC still cannot help itself from plucking the best “one-and-done” phenoms from The Program every year. When you walk the halls of USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth Arena, the NTDP’s fortress, you’ll often find BC coach Jerry York coming in and out of meetings with prospects and coaches. Four fresh products of The Program will be repping the Golden Eagle for York this season.

Could all this extraordinary American hockey talent spreading out to college campuses be a bad thing? Certainly not for fans who are asked to shell out $30 per seat; they’re eager to see the next American Olympic and NHL stars in their favorite laundry. They also want their alma mater to compete in this hockey arms race, none more than crosstown rivals BU and BC. 

But to the wise men who care about the long-term success of their school’s program, and the health of college hockey in general, it’s a troubling trend. These uber hockey kids have an entire new dimension of distractions from the primary goal of college hockey championships, a factor that rears its ugly head every postseason. 

By The Numbers: Michigan State Duo Needs Support

The Michigan State Spartans’ top line from 2018-19 was among the best in NCAA hockey last season, but the trio-turned-duo will need support this season. 

FloHockey Is The Home Of The WCHA, Atlantic, & Big Ten Hockey

The newest campaign of college hockey begins in just a few weeks, which means that FloHockey is the place to be if you're a fan of Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), Big Ten, or Atlantic Hockey. Subscribers will also have access to many collegiate women's hockey games, including Big Ten and WCHA competition.

Former NCAA Scoring King Diego Cuglietta Faces The Tough Climb Of A Pro

At some point in every athlete’s life, they reach a ceiling — even NCAA scoring aces.

WCHA Hockey Preview, Part II: Bowling Green Moves On Without Chris Bergeron

Here is the second part of a two-part preview of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s upcoming season, brought to you by FloHockey correspondent Tim Rappleye. You can find Part I here.

WCHA Hockey Preview, Part I: Minnesota State Is Primed For More Trophies

Western Collegiate Hockey Association expert and FloHockey correspondent Tim Rappleye brings fans a two-part WCHA preview in which he pinpoints favorites, identifies hot stories headed into the season, and gives you everything you need to know before the puck drops.

By The Numbers: Tanner Laczynski Is The Guy At Ohio State

After three straight NCAA Tournament appearances, the Ohio State Buckeyes will need to lean on a large cast of seniors once again to stretch their streak to four.

By The Numbers: Michigan Wolverines Can Bounce Back

Back in June, FloHockey categorized the Michigan Wolverines’ roster as one cast into limbo following the departure of several key players, but the merry-go-round of star talent in Ann Arbor welcomes the next wave of top-tier prospects.

2019-20 Atlantic Hockey Schedule Release: Niagara

Niagara returns after a season of being just under .500 last year as they finished at 17-19-5 overall and 11-12-4 in the conference.

2019-20 Atlantic Hockey Schedule Release: Mercyhurst

A good mix of games is on the docket for Mercyhurst this season, which doesn't see any of its conference competition until November 1. 

2019-20 Big Ten Schedule Release: Penn State

The Nittany Lions will get their season started in the first week of October in an exhibition game against University of Ottawa before hosting Sacred Heart on the their home ice.