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Where Are They Now: The Historic 2019 USA NTDP Squad

The 2019 USA Hockey National Team Development Program had 17 players drafted into the NHL. Tony Ferrari digs into where the draftees are at now.
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The 2019 NHL draft will be remembered for the domination of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program. They set a new record with eight first-round picks and 17 players selected in total. Nearly the entire team was selected in what was an unprecedented draft class from a single club.

Their domination of the draft started early and often. Seven of the top 15 picks were from the NTDP squad. They had the first overall pick and a run of four straight picks from 12th overall to 15. It was a banner night for USA Hockey and the development plan they’ve laid out for the nation’s best players.

Kicking off the fourth season since that draft, let’s dive into where all of their drafted prospects are now from Jack Hughes at first overall to sixth-round pick Marshall Warren.

Jack Hughes, C, New Jersey, First Overall

Hughes is one of the biggest breakout candidates for this NHL season. We’ve seen him take over games at times over the last two seasons with the New Jersey Devils. He’s showcased his talents as a number-one pick by driving offense at a level that the Devils’ desperately needed prior to his arrival. His elite skating ability has translated into him being one of the game's preeminent transition players.

Hughes’ playmaking and puck skill are evident just about every time he’s on the ice, but it’s his goal-scoring that has begun to take him to the next level. Despite dealing with injuries last season, Hughes set career highs with 26 goals and 56 points in just 49 games.

It’s safe to say the U-18 NTDP captain is on the way to living up to his potential. The Devils have found their franchise player for the next era, signing him to an eight-year, $64-million deal early last season.

Alex Turcotte, C, Los Angeles, Fifth Overall

The second player taken from the NTDP in the 2019 draft hasn’t quite been able to get his NHL career going as of yet, largely due to injury and inconsistencies. After an impressive 26-point performance in 29 games as a freshman at the University of Wisconsin, Turcotte made the decision to turn pro.

His AHL career has been a bit up-and-down. He's been productive when in the lineup, but he's dealt with a few injuries since signing his entry-level deal. He hasn’t played more than the 35 games played split between the AHL and NHL last season, which has made developing properly a bit more difficult.

Turcotte started this season back on the injury list, dealing with a concussion that he sustained in the AHL playoffs last year. Things are looking up though as he is back on the ice with the Ontario Reign, albeit in a non-contact jersey. A first step towards getting back to action.

Trevor Zegras, C, Anaheim, Ninth Overall

The ninth overall pick from the 2019 NHL draft has done nothing but become the face of the game in a lot of ways. He’s become known for his highly skilled and creative offensive plays, such as the lacrosse goal and the flip pass from behind the net, and he is quite literally the face of the game – named an NHL 23 cover athlete with Sarah Nurse on the EA Sports staple.

Zegras finished second in Calder Trophy voting last season and was named to the NHL’s All-Rookie team at year’s end. Even though his NHL career just beginning, he’s already established himself as one of the game’s most marketable stars. Despite not being on the NHL All-Star Game roster, he was invited to All-Star Weekend and put on a show in the shootout competition.

His highlight reel from his rookie season was absolutely marvellous to watch. Zegras’ skill is remarkable, and his personality emanates on and off the ice. Whether he’s doing a post-game or intermission interview or making magic on the ice, Zegras is one of the NHL’s most entertaining players. What does he have in store for his second full NHL season?

Matt Boldy, LW, Minnesota, 12th Overall

The Wild seem to have found a gem of their own at 12th overall. Boldly stepped into the NHL last year and tore it up, taking Minnesota to a new level offensively. He had instant chemistry with Kevin Fiala, who was traded to the Los Angeles Kings during the off-season. Had he been called up to the NHL a bit sooner, his scoring pace (70 points over a full 82 games) would have led to a more realistic chance at the Calder Trophy.

With a hot start so far this season, Boldly is proving that his success was far from reliant on Fiala doing much of the work. Boldly has one of the more mature approaches to the game, looking like a veteran when it comes to his board play and ability to create space for himself. Minnesota will be relying on him to be a major offensive piece moving forward.

Spencer Knight, G, Florida, 13th Overall

Fresh off signing a three-year deal worth $13.5 million that will kick in next season, Knight will be looking to take a bigger share of the crease in Florida this season. He played in 32 games as a rookie last season, and he had a quick stint the year before following his sophomore NCAA season.

His Boston University career was spectacular with a Hobey Baker finalist nod to his name to go with numerous conference accolades and success on the international stage at the world juniors as well. At just 21 years old, it’s rare to have a goalie as young as he is with experience in two prior NHL seasons. Knight has shown up in big ways at every level he’s played at, and it just seems to be a matter of time before he takes the majority of the starts in Florida, even if they have a $10-million goalie in Sergei Bobrovsky already in tow.

Cam York, D, Philadelphia, 14th Overall

After two successful seasons at the University of Michigan, York signed his entry-level deal to join Philadelphia as they looked to infuse their lineup with young talent. Unfortunately for York, he hasn’t been able to get into the NHL lineup full-time, primarily playing at the AHL level since turning pro.

He was close to making the team out of camp this year but was sent down to play big minutes and further develop his game with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. He managed to get into 30 games at the NHL level last year, and he should find his way into a few more than that this year, especially once the Flyers regress after their hot start. If the Flyers face injuries or move bodies at the trade deadline, York would likely be one of the first names elevated to the NHL squad.

Cole Caufield, RW, Montreal, 15th Overall

What a rollercoaster ride Caufield’s career has been so far. He joined the Habs in the 2020-21 season and helped lead them to the Stanley Cup final with 12 points across 20 games. Caufield seemed to be poised for a massive breakout last season. Unfortunately, then-Montreal coach Dom Ducharme had other plans.

Caufield’s playing time and role fluctuated and he yo-yoed from NHL to AHL and back. Caufield’s season changed for the better when Ducharme was let go and Martin St. Louis was brought in as the new coach.

As a fellow short king, St. Louis had an understanding of Caufield, and the young Hab has been as dangerous as just about any young player in the game today. He had one goal prior to the switch and 22 afterward. This season, he is a point-per-game player, and looking as if challenging 40 goals isn’t out of the question in St. Louis' more open and offensive system.

John Beecher, C, Boston, 30th Overall

Beecher never seemed to get his game going offensively with the University of Michigan through three years there, but after signing his entry-level deal with the Bruins at the end of last season, he looked much more dangerous at the AHL level. He was a bit buried offensively at Michigan, but he’s been given room to run in Providence.

He wasn’t really a challenger to the NHL roster this season as the Bruins are looking to go on one more Cup run with the aging core, but Beecher should be given plenty of opportunity in the AHL. He’s struggled to keep pace at times, but he has the physicality and shooting talent to be a good pro.

Alex Vlasic, D, Chicago, 43rd Overall

The 6-foot-6 defender plays a solid shutdown role and matured quite well over three seasons in college with Boston University. He signed with Chicago after his NCAA season ended last year and played 15 games with the NHL club, looking as capable as anyone Chicago rostered on the back end last season.

This year, he’s begun his campaign in the AHL as the club isn’t in a rush to get their young players into the NHL lineup. Vlasic is an intimidating force defensively because of his size. While his mobility has improved since draft day, he will need to continue to ramp it up as he makes his way through the pro ranks. Expect to see him at the NHL level this year again. 

Drew Helleson, D, Colorado, 47th Overall

Sent to the Anaheim Ducks in a trade that netted the Avs defender Josh Manson last season, Helleson signed with the Ducks late last season and began his pro career in AHL San Diego. While he plays a defensive game primarily, everything Helleson does on the ice is a product of his mobility.

His offensive game matured in the NCAA, but he likely won’t become a high-flying modern defender. Rather, he plays a smart and simple game, moving the puck to his skilled linemates. His willingness to take a back seat to those who can generate more creative offense allows him to focus on transition and defensive play.

He’s with the San Diego Gulls to start this season but could very well find his way onto the NHL roster if injuries strike.

Domenick Fensore, D, Carolina, 90th Overall

Now in his fourth NCAA season with Boston University and wearing the captain’s ‘C’, Fensore is one of the more gifted offensive defensemen to come out of the NTDP in recent years. Had he been a couple of inches taller, he very likely could have been a late first, early second-round pick. Alas, the 5-foot-7 defender is taking his time toward the NHL.

Fensore popped off and was just under a point-per-game player last season at the NCAA level and has exceeded the mark early this year. The offensive side of the puck was never the question though. It’s his defensive game that's still spotty at times. He has the skill and mobility, but can he overcome his diminutive stature?

Henry Thrun, D, Anaheim, 101st Overall

Thrun is a solid two-way defender who's in his third NCAA season after taking a year to go play in the USHL – he spent his sophomore campaign there since Harvard shut down play during the pandemic. Thrun isn’t the most agile or gifted defender, but he understands how to manipulate opponents in the offensive zone to open passing and shooting lanes. While his offense isn’t expected to completely translate, some of it should and that’s a welcome sign for the improving Ducks.

Case McCarthy, D, New Jersey, 118th Overall

Another Boston University athlete, McCarthy is in his fourth season with the school. Now an alternate captain, his defensive style of play has looked quite good at the NCAA level, but there are worries as to whether he can translate that to the NHL because of the pace of the pro game. He loves to throw a big hit, but if he gets caught chasing in the pros, he could find himself stuck in the AHL.

Owen Lindmark, C, Florida, 137th Overall

Lindmark is a hard worker who could find his way to the pro ranks because of it, but he will need to improve his offensive skill with the University of Wisconsin this season. He lacks finishing ability, and his passing game is fairly basic. He profiles as a bottom-six energy guy at the next level and could sign with the Panthers or in the AHL after this season. An improved offensive game would go a long way to ensuring that he gets a contract.

Judd Caulfield, RW, Pittsburgh, 145th Overall

The University of North Dakota product found a bit of a goal-scoring touch last season, but it’s his defensive game that is his calling card. He could wind up being a bottom-six defensive specialist, the kind that Pittsburgh routinely turns into sound NHLers. Caulfield is a big-bodied forward who grinds along the walls and moves bodies defensively, so the path to a pro career is there for the young American.

Patrick Moynihan, RW, New Jersey, 158th Overall

Moynihan is a skilled and versatile forward who can do a bit of everything. He was just about a point-per-game player at Providence as a sophomore but took a bit of a step back from a production standpoint last season. He will look to get back to his scoring ways a bit more this season as a senior in the NCAA. The Devils could use him as a bottom-six scoring option down the road or energy forward who can chip in from time to time.

Marshall Warren, D, Minnesota, 166th Overall

Although slightly undersized at 5-foot-11, Warren is a smart defender who can do a bit of everything. He has the puck-moving ability and puck skill to generate offense when asked. He also has the play recognition and mobility to defend well, particularly on the rush. Many were shocked when he was the final defender taken from the NTDP in 2019 as so many thought he was one of the better three or four blueliners who played for the squad that year. 

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