It started when William Smith (6-foot-1, 180 pounds), a right shooting center, became the first of four NTDP U-18 players to be selected in the first round when he was selected #4 by San Jose. Sharks.
Smith was joined in the first round by right winger Ryan Leonard (No. 8, Washington Capitals), quarterback Oliver Moore (No. 19, Chicago Blackhawks), and right winger Gabriel Perrault (No. 23, New York Rangers). Perreault, Smith, and Leonard played first grade and each will attend Boston College the next season. Moore will attend the University of Minnesota.
“Off the ice, we liked each other… everyone was hanging out with everyone and that helped us out on the ice,” said Smith. “When we got to the game, because we had a lot of trust with each other, that helped us win.”
It was the fifth consecutive year at least one member of the program was selected among the top five, marking the longest such stretch by any team in NHL draft history.
The program featured 13 players selected over seven rounds.
“I think it’s a testament to the program and the work everyone is doing there,” said USA Hockey’s assistant executive director of operations, John Vanbiesbrouck. (USA Hockey Assistant Executive Director) Scott Monaghan is running a great program for us and (USA Hockey Director of Sports Science) Brian Gallivan is now helping us develop the ice on the ice. I think the commitment to the US-born players is at an all-time high.
“We’re growing and when you’re managing teams like me, you’re the beneficiary of having some really good hockey players. We’re riding high, and I think our challenge now is to keep that going, but we’re getting some very good athletes and we’re very proud of that.”
(Related: Completed 2023 NHL draft coverage)
A record eight NTDP players, including seven top-15 players, were selected in the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft. There have been six NTDP forwards selected in the first round and 14th overall in the 2022 NHL Draft.
Five players from this year’s team selected in the 2023 draft will attend Boston College in 2023-24, including the Smith program’s top line centered right wing Leonard and left wing Perrault.
“I thought we all brought something different to the table (as a font),” Perrault said. “I think Will is probably the most skilled guy in the draft and there’s no one else who brings as much to the table as Ryan, so it was really easy to play with those guys.
“We’ll see what comes next year.”
In addition to Smith, Biro and Leonard, defensemen Drew Fortescue (Rangers, #90) and Aram Mintian (Dallas Stars, #125) and forward William Foote are the other players headed to Boston College in the Hockey East region.
“I don’t know what (Boston College coach) Greg Brown did there…he got a big hook,” said Vanbiesbrouck, tongue in cheek. “I think they have a great program and they’re really committed and focused on our group. The first line is obviously the first line and this summer we’ll see them at the USA Hockey World Junior Summer Showcase (in August) playing together again.
“The chemistry and cohesion of the game is a big factor. Boston College’s part is very unusual but they want to play together, and luckily Boston College has invested and invested wisely.”
This year’s program set record performance on several fronts.
NTDP (50-13-0) has a record for wins (16-5-1) against NCAA competition, as well as wins (15-3-1) against Division I programs.
The crowning achievement was their first gold medal celebration at the 2023 IIHF World U18 Championships since 2017, winning 3-2 in overtime against Sweden in the championship game for the country’s 11th gold in tournament history. The United States lost 6-4 to Sweden in the gold medal game for the 2022 U-18 World Championships.
The USA proved dominant this time around, equaling the Canadian record for most goals in the tournament (51 in 2001) while setting the standard for the best goal difference (51-10).
NTDP guards Trey Augustine (Detroit Red Wings, No. 41) and Carson Moser (Arizona Coyotes, No. 166) are selected in the 2023 draft.
“It’s a group I’ve been really proud to be a part of, and what we’ve been able to achieve,” said Dan Moss, who served as NTDP Under-18s coach last season. “This group of players leave better than when they arrived and that’s what you want to do in a place like this in that two-year process that you go through.
“There were a lot of great groups coming out, a lot of great players that got involved, but let’s keep building the level. Let’s keep building the way we do things every day. It takes a group of guys to be able to do that and I think they’ve done that.” “.