Another NTDPer Heads North

On Monday of last week, Sonny Milano told the Columbus Blue Jackets’ website that he’s going to Boston College. The team that drafted him posted a headline saying, “Milano fully committed, excited to join Boston College program.”

Six days later, that changed.

On Saturday, Milano informed Boston College he would not be going there. He is the latest NTDP player to leave a college program hanging late in the summer.

Since 2011, a total of 15 college-committed NTDP players have wound up in the Canadian Hockey League. Of those de-commits, 13 have gone to the OHL and just one each to the WHL and QMJHL.

Is there something going on with the NTDP players? Or is this just the general risk that programs run when recruiting elite players — ones that are going to be the biggest targets for CHL teams to pursue aggressively?

As an attempt to answer that question, I listed all NHL first-round picks (that I could recall) in the past five years who were committed to a college program at one time. I split them into two lists: 1. NTDP players, 2. Non-NTDP players.

According to my numbers, I counted a total of 31 first-round picks since 2010 who were committed to NCAA at one time — 15 NTDPers, 16 who came up in other leagues.

The result?

Only 40 percent of the NTDP first-round picks actually ended up on campus for at least a year (Milano, Michael McCarron, Ryan Hartman, Stefan Matteau, J.T. Miller, Connor Murphy, Jack Campbell, Cam Fowler and Jarred Tinordi did not).

A total of 75 percent of non-NTDP first-round picks ended up on campus for at least a year (Anthony DeAngelo, Zemgus Girgensons, Mark Scheifele and Ryan Johansen did not). Of note: Girgensons did not go to CHL, he signed and went to AHL.

In other words, when it comes to NHL first-rounders, players who did not go through Ann Arbor were almost twice as likely to end up on campus than those who played in Ann Arbor during the last five years.

It’s also worth noting that Girgensons is the only non-NTDP first-rounder in that span to leave his college the summer before his arrival date (the late departures are very difficult to replace for colleges). Milano, McCarron, Miller, Murphy and Tinordi were summer departures.

Obviously not all NTDP players are the same and each individual is different, but it seems clear that if a school recruits a player in Ann Arbor, they should probably have a backup plan ready — especially if the kid is a first-round NHL pick.

NOTE: If I missed anyone on the list below, let me know and I will update the numbers.

College-committed NTDP first-rounders since 2010

Dylan Larkin, Michigan (YES)
Sonny Milano, Notre Dame, Boston College (NO – OHL)
Alex Tuch, Boston College (YES)
Michael McCarron, Western Michigan (NO – OHL)
Ryan Hartman, Miami (NO – OHL)
Jacob Trouba, Michigan (YES)
Brady Skjei, Minnesota (YES)
Stefan Matteau, North Dakota (NO – QMJHL)
J.T. Miller, North Dakota (NO – OHL)
Connor Murphy, Miami (NO – OHL)
Tyler Biggs, Miami (YES)
Jack Campbell, Michigan (NO – OHL)
Cam Fowler, Notre Dame (NO – OHL)
Derek Forbort, North Dakota (YES)
Jarred Tinordi, Notre Dame (NO – OHL)

College-committed non-NTDP first-round picks since 2010

Nick Schmaltz, North Dakota (YES)
Anthony DeAngelo, Boston University (NO – OHL)
Zemgus Girgensons, Vermont (NO – AHL)
Mark Jankowski, Providence (YES)
Michael Matheson, Boston College (YES)
Jordan Schmaltz, North Dakota (YES)
Jamie Oleksiak, Northeastern (YES)
Mark Scheifele, Cornell (NO – OHL)
Jaden Schwartz, Colorado College (YES)
Nick Bjugstad, Minnesota (YES)
Beau Bennett, Denver (YES)
Riley Sheahan, Notre Dame (YES)
Kevin Hayes, Boston College (YES)
Charlie Coyle, Boston University (YES)
Brock Nelson, North Dakota (YES)
Ryan Johansen, Northeastern (NO – WHL)

20 Responses

  1. UND Pilots

    This information makes one wonder how committed the NTDP is to keeping kids in the States and the NCAA. I don’t know how much control the NTDP has over any of this, but its interesting none the less…

    1. SiouxFan

      They cannot control it, nor do they need to. See my posts below. It’s got nothing to do with where they play. From their website, their mission statement

      NTDP Mission Statement
      • Provide an accelerated development opportunity for the elite American Under-18 player, assisting those players with reaching their future goals in hockey and life.
      • Successfully represent USA Hockey at competitive international events, including the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, Under-18 World Championship, and Under-20 World Junior Championship.
      • Provide an increased base of experienced, dedicated, and well-prepared players for U.S. National and Olympic teams.
      • Serve within the USA Hockey community as a resource for development and improvement for coaches and players of all levels from youth to collegiate hockey

      College hockey isn’t noted until the last bullet point, and then only referring to people already playing at the college level. No development related to sending players to the NCAA is noted.

  2. Seattle51

    Hey Brad, I am wondering if these kids that are switching their commitments from College to the Major Juniors maybe just arnt cut out for college. Not everyone is. Its a lot more work to play college hockey and maintain a mandatory GPA on top of that. I would be interested to see what kind of students these players were that decided to go the Major Junior route instead.

    1. I know for sure that one of the NTDP kids who left (not a first-rounder) was an academic situation. We know that Ryan Mantha was a nonqualifier. So, it does happen. But the kids that are leaving six weeks before class starts have been accepted into school. In J.T. Miller’s case, he had already started taking summer classes at UND when he jumped to OHL.

  3. Ignorant Guy

    I get that the college commitment game is framed in such a way now as to not be about integrity or keeping a man’s word anymore. I really do. I don’t understand, however, how these men think their odds of succeeding in the NHL are so great as to forgo an education in their early 20s. We have seen plenty of players that we’re sure are going to make it not make more than a few million in the pros. A “few million” ain’t going to cut it over most of their lifetimes. So, why not start an education at a good school with great coaches and hedge? Look at Greene. He’s making great money AND he has most? all? of his education when he finishes to transition to a lifetime profession.

    1. wellnowspecial

      Why not take that few million they make and go to school with that after their playing careers are over? Why not go back to college and be wealthy at the age of 25 and date hot early 20’s chicks?

      Greene isn’t ever going to have a job like you or myself. He will never be stuck in an office for 8hrs a day 40 hrs a week. Lot’s of these kids that don’t make it will, but not Greene. He’ll be announcing or coaching hockey somewhere.

  4. SiouxFan

    I removed the 3 2014 1st rounders, and looked to see where the rest are (or are likely to be–my opinion) this season…just out of curiosity.

    College-committed NTDP first-rounders since 2010

    Dylan Larkin, Michigan (YES)–2014

    Sonny Milano, Notre Dame, Boston College (NO – OHL)-2014

    Alex Tuch, Boston College (YES)-2014

    Michael McCarron, Western Michigan (NO – OHL) In OHL

    Ryan Hartman, Miami (NO – OHL)–Played 9 games in AHL at end of last year. Probably likely to play in OHL again this season.

    Jacob Trouba, Michigan (YES)– WPG, NHL

    Brady Skjei, Minnesota (YES)–Junior year at UM

    Stefan Matteau, North Dakota (NO – QMJHL)–17 NHL games, probably headed for the AHL for most of the year.

    J.T. Miller, North Dakota (NO – OHL)–up and down with the NYR. Expected to be in NY this year. May be a make or break year.

    Connor Murphy, Miami (NO – OHL)–Split time between PHX and AHL last year. Should be in the mix for 6/7 dman in PHX—sorry ARI this year.

    Tyler Biggs, Miami (YES)– Spent last year in AHL. May get a cup of coffee this year, but will likely spend most of this year there too.

    Jack Campbell, Michigan (NO – OHL)–1 career NHL game. Like to be the started for the AHL Texas Stars this year and get called up in case of injury.

    Cam Fowler, Notre Dame (NO – OHL)–Top pair NHL dman and USA olympian.

    Derek Forbort, North Dakota (YES)– AHL, stuck there with a deep blueline in LA. May get first NHL call up this year.

    Jarred Tinordi, Notre Dame (NO – OHL)–AHL, played 22 games in MTL this year. likely to split time again this year.

    College-committed non-NTDP first-round picks since 2010

    Nick Schmaltz, North Dakota (YES)–2014

    Anthony DeAngelo, Boston University (NO – OHL)–Likely to play his 4th full season in Sarnia

    Zemgus Girgensons, Vermont (NO – AHL)–Buffalo, NHL

    Mark Jankowski, Providence (YES)–Junior year at PC

    Michael Matheson, Boston College (YES)–Junior year at BC

    Jordan Schmaltz, North Dakota (YES)–JR at ND

    Jamie Oleksiak, Northeastern (YES)–Up and down between Dallas and AHL

    Mark Scheifele, Cornell (NO – OHL)–WPG, NHL

    Jaden Schwartz, Colorado College (YES)–STL NHL

    Nick Bjugstad, Minnesota (YES)–FLA NHL

    Beau Bennett, Denver (YES)– PITT NHL

    Riley Sheahan, Notre Dame (YES)– DET NHL

    Kevin Hayes, Boston College (YES)– NHL FA, unsigned.

    Charlie Coyle, Boston University (YES)– MN NHL

    Brock Nelson, North Dakota (YES)–NYI NHL

    Ryan Johansen, Northeastern (NO – WHL)–CBJ NHL

    I really have no idea what it all means, but there it is

    1. erik thorne

      Siouxfan, If you see this I have a question for you. Actually a couple of them. Was Forbert’s 6 games in 2013 part of his three year contract? After his three years are up do you think that LA will sign him again to keep his rights for the future and as a backup d to call on?

  5. steve

    Who pays for the NTDP? If half are leaving, is it worth the cost of funding it? With the success of many of the Sioux players in this years run at the Stanley Cup, it proves to go the college route. Does college hockey promote that in Canada?

    1. SiouxFan

      All due respect, a one year run doesn’t “prove” anything–just as many kids from the CHL played for the LA Kings and the other cup contenders this year. Bottom line the NTDP is run by USA hockey, not the NCAA or College Hockey. The goal is to make the US competitive on the world stage, in IIHF events like the World Juniors and Olympics, by developing high end hockey players, not to funnel players to college hockey. The CHL has many teams in the US as well as in Canada, for example Plymouth and Portland have been popular landing spots for college de-commits.

      Every player is different, every situation is different. Some NHL teams want their prospects in the CHL for whatever reason. Some like the college route. If you or I got drafted in the first round during the last week in June, and the first of August the team that drafted you told you to go play in the CHL instead of college, you and I would both go. They are potentially your future meal ticket, your life long dream.

      You can argue all day about which route is better, and if late de-commits are right or wrong, but the bottom line is that both paths frequently lead to the NHL for highly skilled players. Different NHL teams culture and management have different ideas about how and where to develop each individual prospect, and that is their prerogative. Does it suck sometimes? Yeah. Does it screw over college hockey more than the CHL, because its a one way road and once you take it, you can’t come back? Yeah.

      But the argument that one league or the other is superior in development for every player, all the time, is simply not sustainable, logically sound, or reasonable. Both are good developmental leagues, and there are many, many factors that determine the best route for these kids.

      1. SiouxperKev

        Very well said and I couldn’t agree more. I don’t lose any sleep worrying about a kid NOT wanting to come to UND.

        99.9% of us do not have the same options as these 17-18 yr. old kids do so we cant begin to fathom the pressure they are under to make a life changing decision.

  6. joe

    What does NTDP stand for? I follow your website a lot and want to know more about college hockey, but I have no clue!

    1. SiouxperKev

      In case Google is down, its National Team Development Program. Honestly now, they couldn’t have come up with something better?

  7. Glen

    Perhaps one matter that gets missed in the discussion of topic of decommitments or defection to the CHL, whether it be NDTP or otherwise, is that many of these players are sons of former CHL (and NHL) players with Canadian backgrounds- Matteau, Murphy, Tinordi, Lemieux, Biggs, Tambellini. Further, you have former CHL (and NHL sons) MacInnis and Wesley that considered college while NDTP players, but chose CHL. If Mantha did ultimately decide (vs. not qualifying) to choose CHL over college, he would be another. Cam Fowler was born in Windsor, Ontario. Look at the recent UND decommitments and transfers- Matteau, Lemieux, Koules, Tambellini, and Mantha all fit that family background. Ryan Gropp is the son of a former CC player who resides in WHL hotbed, Kamloops, BC. Only JT Miller does not have a Canadian family background. NCAA hockey has long had a Canadian connection, but there has been, without question, a greater number of blue chip players, that are sons of former CHL players that are giving NCAA hockey consideration. I do not believe that was the case 15-20 years ago. I have to believe the pressure and the history, relative to their fathers, not to mention Dad’s path to the NHL, has a great deal to do with the eventual decision to go CHL. Throw in money, agent, and NHL pressure, NCAA teams have less than even odds for this type of player.

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