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.
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)