NTDP dominates draft; record eight players taken in first round
These players were the first three NTDP players taken in the NHL draft: Jack Hughes by New Jersey, first pick; Alex Turcotte by Los Angeles, fifth pick, and Trevor Zegras, Anaheim, ninth pick.
There were enough players taken from USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program during the NHL draft to ice a full team for a game.
Seventeen NTDP players names were called with a record eight coming in the first round of the draft Friday and Saturday at the Rogers Center in Vancouver. The previous high for first-round picks from the program was three.
As expected, center Jack Hughes was the first overall pick, by the New Jersey Devils – he became the eighth American player to be taken first overall. Also expected, the Los Angeles Kings took center Alex Turcotte with the fifth pick while another center, Trevor Zegras, went at No. 9 to the Anaheim Ducks.
In addition, four players who called Plymouth’s USA Hockey Arena their home rink in 2018-19 were selected consecutively from No. 12 to No. 15.
The Minnesota Wild took left wing Matthew Boldy with the 12th pick, goalie Spencer Knight went to the Florida Panthers at No. 13, the Philadelphia Flyers selected defenseman Cam York with the 14th pick and the Montreal Canadiens went with right wing Cole Caufield at No. 15.
It was a longer wait than expected for Caufield, who set the NTDP single-season record with 72 goals last season and was considered to be the best pure goal scorer in the draft. The fact that he is only 5-foot-7 was clearly a factor for many teams.
“I don’t think it’s a risk anymore and no one else should either,” Caufield told Kathryn Tappen on the NBC Sports Network telecast Friday night.
The success of Farmington Hills native Alex DeBrincat of the Chicago Blackhawks was used as an example of why Caufield’s size should not be held against him going into the draft. Also 5-7 and a right wing, DeBrincat was taken by Chicago in the second round (39th overall pick) of the 2016 Draft. He has scored 69 goals – including 41 last season – in his first two NHL seasons.
The Boston Bruin took NTDP center John Beecher with the 30th pick on Friday night.
In all, 11 American-born players were selected in the first round, short of the record 12 taken in the first round in 2016.
The Dallas Stars selected defenseman Thomas Harley (Syracuse, N.Y.) of Mississauga of the Ontario Hockey League with the 18th pick, the Tampa Bay Lightning took left wing Nolan Foote (Denver) – the son of former Colorado Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote – of the Kelowna of the Western Hockey League at No. 27, and defenseman Ryan Johnson (Irvine, Calif.) of Sioux Falls of the United States Hockey League, was taken with the 31st and last pick of the first found by the Buffalo Sabres.
The night was a smashing success for the NTDP and American hockey.
“I’m very excited for our players. They worked so hard,” said USA Hockey Executive Director Pat Kelleher. “… It’s a big night for the players and the families and USA Hockey.”
The NTDP players selected on Saturday in rounds two through seven were: Defenseman Alex Vlasic, Chicago Blackhawks (second round, 43rd pick); defenseman Drew Helleson, Colorado Avalanche (second round, 47th pick); defenseman Domenick Fensore, Carolina Hurricanes (third round, 90th pick); defenseman Henry Thrun, Anaheim Ducks (fourth round, 101st pick), defenseman Case McCarthy, New Jersey Devils (fourth round, 118th pick); center Owen Lindmark, Florida Panthers (fifth round, 137th pick); right wing Judd Caufield, Pittsburgh Penguins (fifth round, 145th pick); right wing Patrick Moynihan, New Jersey Devils (sixth round, 158th pick) and defenseman Marshall Warren, Minnesota Wild (sixth round, 166th pick).
A total of 59 American players were taken in the draft.