NTDP 2016 Camp Invites (’00)
Published March 3, 2016
The NTDP released their 2016 class of invites for tryout camp this month in Plymouth, and there were not many surprises. What has emerged as one of the deepest, most intriguing American birthyears in a while was proven strong at the Youth Olympic Games last month where they took Gold. This roster includes the entirety of that team. Looking at a state-by-state view, it’s a dominant showing for Minnesota, with 12, and the rest of the hockey-‘M’ states also saw a lot of their best players selected.
This is a forward group that includes a lot of size, offensive talent (of all shapes/heights), speed, and power in their games. It has a little bit of everything. At center for the camp is the highest concentration of upside at one position, and it’s not a coincidence that all 8 have commitments to major programs before the puck drops in Plymouth.
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BU’s Jake Wise likely leads the group, but with Oliver Wahlstrom (Harvard) and Jake Pivonka (ND) flagging right behind and fellow Terrier recruit Jack DeBoer improving each year, those four can go up against any four centers around right now. Add two bright stars from Minnesota in Grand Rapids’ Gavin Hain (North Dakota) and Luverne’s Jaxon Nelson (Minnesota) to go with 6’4 Skipjacks forward Pat Giles (BC) and Honeybaked’s Jon Gruden (Miami), it’s clear there are going to be some tough calls. For Wise, Hain and DeBoer, this month included a chance to take a championship in their high school competitions (MA, MN, Prep respectively).
At wing (for the camp at least), the skill level is pretty high with Tyler Weiss (BU), TJ Walsh (BC), Blake McLaughlin (MN), Joel Farabee (BU), Max Ellis, Trevor Janicke (ND) and recent Michigan recruit Calen Kiefiuk. The others are generally a bit bigger, including Penn State’s Jake Goldowski at 6’4 and Notre Dame’s growing Jack Perbix, listed at 6’0. Erik Middendorf, Curtis Hall, Ryan O’Reilly (UNO), Jack Randl and Blade Jenkins round out the rest of a forward group where everyone can threaten to score and a number can create at a high level. Hall has already tendered with Youngstown, which could be a rough go for the Phantoms if he chooses to do what former Y’town-tender Jake Tortora did last year, and decide to accept an offer from the NTDP after tendering.
On defense, the stellar group that went to Norway gets a boost in Mission U16 defender Bode Wilde (Harvard), who will be a key OHL Draft look, alongside a number of the players invited to camp. Fellow tall, aggressive defenseman Mattias Samuelsson brings an edge and heavy shot to go with immense athletic ability. Unlike the forward group, a number of the better defenders invited are uncommitted to-date, including Ty Emberson, an explosive athlete with a unique ceiling at 5’11. The Wisconsin native led his HS team in scoring this winter despite playing on the blue. Minnesota’s K’Andre Miller, Mississauga’s DJ King, and TPH’s Ben Schultheis each bring hulking frames and raw athletic upside – each will certainly have schools and junior scouts evaluating over the months to come.
There are also some smaller talents at D, most glaringly 5’6 Brandon Tabakin, a recent Yale recruit who has a great sense for the game and quickness overall. Kimball Union’s Jordan Harris is listed at 5’9 but plays a strong game in all three zones. He’ll have an opportunity to try for a prep championship this coming weekend. Harris, along with fellow-invite TJ Walsh at forward, was named top at his position for his age at our OTB Teal Invite last summer. The rest of the defensive group includes a number of very notable committed prospects, including Minnesota recruit Ben Brinkman, a three-sport athlete from Edina with a very projectable frame and skillset around the puck.
Stand-out BC recruit Adam Samuelsson, already at 6’5, is going to be given long looks unless he really does not perform to his ability. Already having highlighted more players than can make the team on ‘D’, this defensive group is going to competent to say the least. Christian Krygier, Spencer Stastney (Notre Dame), Jacob Semik (Michigan), Jace Foskey, Will MacKinnon and Slava Demin are each pretty intriguing invites as well and could contest for spots. Semik in particular – another early Michigan commit – has shown his talent consistently in all three zones, can skate really well and alongside Honeybaked teammate Will MacKinnon and Caesars U16’s Christian Krygier, was a part of USA’s Gold Medal winning outfit in Norway.
For goalies it is an interesting year. There doesn’t seem like an early super high achiever in this group, but there is potential. Less than a year ago, Keegan Karki was turning heads in 15 camp in New York and he showed up again on this roster for obvious reasons. He’s a competent, huge goalie at 6’4 who can make some very eye-grabbing stops. With a year of starting under his belt at St. Cloud Cathedral, as far as raw potential goes, the NTDP may not be able to look past. Fellow invitees Drew DeRidder (OJG U16) and Todd Scott (Omaha U16) are below the 6’0 threshold but are more than capable of achieving stand-out performances; the two were the battery USAH sent to Norway and won Gold. The other two are goaltenders from high school hockey, Isaiah Saville from West Anchorage and Ryan Ullan from Hibbing. Saville was at 15s in NY this summer and showed well, whereas Ullan wasn’t, but the 6’1 stopper had a great season statistically in Minnesota HS and garnered an invite.
As far as players not on the list, it’s easy enough to say some names that could have earned a spot, but it’s much harder when one tries to pick who they would take a place away from. Not every player is going to dominate camp, but across-the-board there is plenty of upside so a lot of good players didn’t get invites. A couple that come to mind are UConn recruits Drew Elser and Mac Wiseman, Toronto Marlies forward Akil Thomas, Wisconsin recruit Brady Smith, and Princeton recruit Doug Connor.
There are plenty of uncommitted skaters who could have been interesting picks as well, such as Wayzata’s Colin Schmidt, Selects’ Conner Hutchison, Trinity-Pawling’s Joey Musa, Kevin Wall and Cade Murnan-Mechor from Buffalo, big defender Aidan Fulp from IL, Ethan Frisch from MN, Bobby Burns from Michigan.. the list goes on.
From a philosophical stand-point, picking this team has to be a challenge. Some will prefer players get picked that could literally be Olympic-team players someday and evidently show that potential. Others will think it should be ‘project’ type players with an unclear upside and that the NTDP should be developing more of those players rather than the top-end ones. Others may have entirely different, but valid, views. With such a hard group of players to pick, it seems like they’ve done a nice job of picking a bit of everything for the camp. At the end of the day, this is just one camp at one point in time when invites went out and while it is bigger than most camps, anyone who did not get an invite shouldn’t sweat it too much. There will be teams and opportunities all around hockey for many of the players who didn’t get invited and those could very well turn out to be the better paths if they too are taken with commitment and perseverance.
Below is a sortable chart with the heights we have. You can also sort by commitment, which should show that the more things change in college hockey, the more they stay the same. BU, Michigan, Notre Dame, North Dakota – many of the usual suspects are well-represented by their recruits here, and likely will be well-represented on the final team.