Today, USA Hockey announced the 50-plus player roster for its annual NTDP Evaluation Camp. The roster features many of the best American players from the 1996 birth year, who will be vying for spots on next year’s U.S. National Under-17 Team.
The team will not solely be selected out of this camp, as the summer player development camps are also taken to account, but the vast majority of the players selected for the 2012-13 U17 squad will have participated in this event.
The NTDP tryout camp is annually the first look at what the future may hold for USA Hockey. These players are two-to-three years out from their draft season and other players not in camp will rise over that span, but this roster often gives us a strong idea of a lot of the names we’ll be hearing about in coming years.
This year’s camp format is slightly different than years past. There are more players, for one. With 28 forwards, 19 defensemen and six goaltenders in camp this year, the NTDP was able to break into what was normally two teams, to three. There will be three squads of nine forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders. That means more ice time for each player and will lead to increased intensity, always great for an evaluation camp.
Coming up after the jump, the complete roster as well as some of the players to watch at camp that are already standing out in their young careers.
For the complete roster, click here.
Some general roster highlights:
Seventeen states are represented on the 52-player roster. Minnesota leads the way with seven invitees, while Illinois and New York have six apiece.
Here’s the full breakdown: MN — 7; IL, NY — 6; MI — 5; WI, CO — 4; CA,MA, MO, NC — 3; NJ , PA — 2; IN, NE, NH, OH, VA — 1
All, but two of the 17 players that competed at the inaugural Youth Olympic Winter Games as part of the U.S. Youth Olympic Boys’ Hockey Team in January were invited to the camp. Team USA finished in fourth place at that event, held in Innsbruck, Austria (Finland won gold).
Fourteen of the 53 players invited have made verbal commitments to NCAA Division I schools. A full breakdown available at the end of this post.
The vast majority of these players come from Midget Minor programs from around the country, while there’s a strong presence from Eastern Junior B teams, prep schools and high schools. It’s a pretty good gauge of where the top players are coming from as they’re entering the crucial years of their hockey development.
Now a look at the players:
As one Junior scout told me, this 1996 class is awfully skilled up front and it looks like there’s going to be some tough decisions to be made when it comes to making selections for the NTDP. There appears to be great depth at the forward position, but a lot of top-end talent. The NTDP often looks to build out a team, with role players as well as top-end guys, instead of just going with an all-star squad. There’s a lot of all-stars in this group though.
Ryan MacInnis — St. Louis, Mo. — St. Louis Junior Blues Midget Minor
Hmm. MacInnis. St. Louis. Could it be? Oh, yes, indeed that is the son of NHL legend Al MacInnis. Unlike dear ole dad, Ryan is a forward and is widely considered one of, if not the top forward in this 1996 birth year. At 6-3, 170, he’s got a big frame for his age. And yes, he can shoot the puck a little bit.
MacInnis was a member of the U.S. Youth Olympic Team and was tied for the team lead with six points including a team best four goals. In 34 Tier I Elite League games, he’s posted 47 points including 27 goals.
At his size, players may catch up to him physically, but he’s got more than just the big body. Keep an eye on this young guy for the future.
Blake Clarke — Wildwood, Mo. — St. Louis Blues Midget Major
With just one goal in 13 games, Clarke made the decision to get back to Midget where he’d have a chance to play a more leading role, while still playing against older competition at the U18 level. Clarke posted six points in 17 games for the Blues.
He was also part of the U.S. Youth Olympic Team and posted a pair of goals and an assist in an injury-shortened tournament. He’s going to be an interesting one to watch.
Shane Gersich — Chaska, Minn. — Holy Family High School
Gersich had a sensational freshman season at Holy Family, notching 30 goals and 30 assists in just 21 games for a near three points-per-game pace. Of the seven Minnesotans in camp, Gersich should be one of the most closely watched.
Gersich has decent size at 5-11, 174. Clearly leading the team in goal scoring and finishing second in points as a freshman is a pretty strong accomplishment in Minnesota. He’ll be a coveted recruit if he maintains this development arc.
He also has some pretty great bloodlines, as his uncles (mother’s brothers) just so happen to be Neal and Aaron Broten, ever heard of ’em? Just a couple of U.S. Hockey Hall of Famers. That’s all.
Other forwards of note:
Nick Magyar and Sonny Milano both come from the Tier I Elite League’s Cleveland Barons Midget Minor and might be two of the best players the league has to offer. Magyar posted 64 points including 30 goals in 34 games this year. He also was part of the U.S. Youth Olympic Team, posting three points in six games. Magyar is verbally committed to Ohio State already and looks like he could be a prized recruit for Mark Osieki’s rebuilding of the Buckeyes.
Milano posted an eye-popping 87 points with a balanced 44 goals and 43 assists in 40 games to lead the Tier I Elite League’s midget minor division. Often, in year’s past, the leading scorer of the Tier I league has found his way onto the NTDP roster. Just sayin’.
Jack Eichel, Jared Fiegl, and Joe Wegwerth are also top forwards that were part of the U.S. Youth Olympic Team. Eichel tied for the team lead with six points (2g-4a), while Wegwerth posted four points (2g-2a) and Denver-recruit Fiegl put up a goal and an assist. All three have really good size and could be forces during this camp.
Chris Wilkie, from Omaha, Neb., is another interesting prospect. It’s not often you see a kid from Nebraska, especially one that’s already committed to a major Division I school like North Dakota. Wilkie has NHL bloodlines, however as his father David was a first-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens in 1992. He spent 167 games in the NHL with Montreal, Tampa Bay, and briefly the New York Rangers. The younger Wilkie saw one game with the Lincoln Stars in the USHL this year.
The defensemen might not have the relative depth of the forwards, but there are some really nice pieces in this group. There’s plenty of good size, with a good portion of the D-men coming in at over six-feet-tall. The NTDP has enjoyed some incredible years on the blue line, few better than the 1994-birth class currently in their U18 season. This 1996 group likely won’t approach that level, but there is definitely some talent.
Jack Glover — Golden Valley, Minn. — Benilde-St. Margaret’s High School
Benilde-St. Margaret’s has been all over the news this winter. It is, of course, the school for which Jack Jablonski played. While the outpouring for support for Jablonski has been overwhelming, the Red Knights have continued to get the job done on the ice. In fact, BSM will skate at the X against Edina tonight as part of the State Tournament.
While Jablonski has rightfully gotten the attention, there’s a budding young hockey star on the BSM blue line named Jack Glover.
The 6-2, 170-pound sophomore has posted 18 points in 24 games in helping the Knights reach The Tourney. He was also a key part of the U.S. Youth Olympic team, posting a goal and an assist in six games.
The expectations of Glover are pretty high, and he’ll get a big opportunity to showcase himself in front of the entire state of Minnesota tonight on high school hockey’s biggest stage.
Ryan Bliss — Bedford, N.H. — St. Paul’s School
The 6-2, 185-pound defenseman was an essential part of Team USA’s blue line at the Youth Olympic Winter Games. On a team that gave up an unsightly 29 goals in Innsbruck, Bliss was a plus-1 and posted two assists. He’s a good defender and will likely play a leading role in camp based on his Youth Olympic experience.
Adam Baughman, Nathan Billitier, Joshua Jacobs, and Kevin Kerr were the other defensemen for the U.S. Youth Olympic team. Baughman was a plus-2 on the team, while also posting three points. Future Michigan State Spartan Jacobs had three assists, while Penn State recruit Kerr collected a plus-3 rating. Billitier posted a pair of points for Team USA.
The goaltending, as it is every year, is difficult to predict. The NTDP has typically gone with one fairly polished proven goaltender, and then went with a more project-type player for the second goaltending slot. There’s no telling if that will remain the case this time around. Either way, it should be an interesting competition with the new-three team format, meaning goalies likely will see more game action than before.
Edwin Minney — Wind Gap, Pa. — Washington Little Caps Midget Minor
Minney was the starter for the U.S. Youth Olympic Team, but ended up going down with an injury. He was between the pipes for both of Team USA’s wins in Innsbruck, but got bombarded with shots in the action he saw. Minney posted a 4.65 GAA and .833 save percentage, facing 66 shots over four games.
With the DC Caps in the Tier I league, Minney has appeared in 25 games, posting a 6-9-7 record, 2.71 GAA and .902 save percentage with 560 saves on the year.
The big body is what the NHL scouts are looking for and Minney’s got that and more. If he keeps growing, look out. The U.S. has been churning out good goaltenders like nobody’s business of late. Could Minney add his name to that growing list some day? It’s way too early to tell, but he’s got the pro height already, so that’s a nice little start.
Logan Halladay was the other goaltender from the U.S. Youth Olympic Team and was thrust into action rather abruptly. The 6-1, 174-pound netminder didn’t have a great go of it out there, but there wasn’t a heck of a lot of help.
Appearing in five games, Halladay went 0-3, with a 5.09 GAA and .743 save percentage. It’s important to remember that just getting invited to that team speaks to the talent that Halladay possesses.
He’s performed well for the Carolina Junior Hurricanes in North American Prospects Hockey League action, posting a 2.67 GAA and .910 save percentage. Expect him to stay in the mix in Ann Arbor.
As promised here is the list of players with college commitments that will be participating at the 2012 NTDP Evaluation Camp (Note: Most commitments come from Chris Heisenberg’s comprehensive college recruiting database. If I’m missing anyone, let me know).
Anders Bjork (Mequon, Wis.) — Notre Dame
Kyle Connor (Shelby Twp., Mich.) — Michigan
Dylan Larkin (Waterford, Mich.) — Michigan
Jared Fiegl (Parker, Colo.) — Denver
Ryan Hitchcock (Manhasset, N.Y.) — Yale
Nick Magyar (Mentor, Ohio) — Ohio State
Liam Pecararo (Canton, Mass.) — Maine
Chris Wilkie (Omaha, Neb.) — North Dakota
Louis Belpedio (Skokie, Ill.) — Miami
Ryan Bliss (Bedford, N.H.) — Cornell
Joshua Jacobs (Shelby Twp., Mich.) — Michigan State
Kevin Kerr (Bensalem, Pa.) — Penn State
Jake Linhart (Brookfield, Wis.) — Wisconsin
Johnathan MacLeod (Dracut, Mass.) — Boston University
The camp runs from March 19-23 in Ann Arbor, Mich., at the Ice Cube.