It has widely been reported that Boston College will bring in defenseman Noah Hanifin, a big-time talent who spent last year on the U.S. Under-17 team (until he was bumped up).
Now, according to TheWolverine.com, Michigan is close to adding Hanifin’s teammate, defenseman Zach Werenski, out of the U17s.
Both players had to accelerate their education to have the option of going to college a year early. Now, instead of advancing to the U18 team as usual, they both may wind up playing college hockey this season.
Could this be a new trend for top-end players from the NTDP?
If so, it may not be a bad thing for college hockey.
A large number of top-end players who age out of the NTDP are moving to the CHL instead of college. If the option of going to college after the U17 year is available, it might help keep some elite players in college hockey.
Perhaps if the way was paved for guys like Patrick Kane, Cam Fowler and Seth Jones to take that route, they could have ended up in college, too.
There is an asterisk to this type of move, though. It has to be someone who is ready to make that jump, and very, very few players are ready to make that jump (also has to be someone who can handle the academics of accelerating – many cannot).
It would be a move reserved for players like a Kane, a Fowler, a Jones. By all accounts, Hanifin is one of those types of players. He proved that he can play at an elite level in the World U18s. Now, he may open the door to a new option for college hockey.