U.S. NTDP, Windsor Spitfires best at producing NHL players in recent years

Kevin Shattenkirk is one of 10 NHLers 23 and under to be selected out of the U.S. NTDP. (Matt Boulton/Wikimedia Commons)

Kevin Shattenkirk is one of 10 NHLers 23 and under to be selected out of the U.S. NTDP. (Matt Boulton/Wikimedia Commons)

By: Tim Kolupanowich

@TimKolupan_

When it comes to producing top talent in recent years, no team has churned out more young NHLers than the U.S. National Team Development Program. Looking at all the players who played at least one game this year who were 23 or younger when the season started and what team there were on when they were selected in the draft, 10 were on the U.S. NTDP of the United States League, three more than than the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario League.

The NTDP is based in Ann Arbor, Mich. and play a 50+ game schedule that includes games against teams in the USHL, NCAA Division I and III and three international tournaments: the Four Nations Tournament in November, the Five Nations Tournament in February and the IIHF World U18 Championship in April. They take the top players in the United States and groom them for collegiate and professional hockey.

There are a total of 46 NTDP players, divided into Under-18 and Under-17 teams, all of whom are enrolled at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School where they strive to academic success as well as their achievements on the ice; players this season on the U18 have a collective 3.46 GPA while the U17 team has earned a 3.47 GPA.

Here are the 23-and-under NHLers selected from the NTDP:

  • Anaheim’s Kyle Palmieri (selected 26th overall in 2009 by Anaheim)
  • Carolina’s Justin Faulk (37th in 2010 by Carolina)
  • Florida’s Drew Shore (44th in 2009 by Florida)
  • Minnesota’s Charlie Coyle (28th in 2010 by San Jose)
  • Minnesota’s Jason Zucker (59th in 2010 by Minnesota)
  • New Jersey’s Stefan Matteau (29th in 2012 by New Jersey)
  • NY Rangers’ J.T. Miller (15th in 2011 by NY Rangers)
  • St. Louis’ Ian Cole (18th in 2007 by St. Louis)
  • St. Louis’ Kevin Shattenkirk (14th in 2007 by Colorado)
  • Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk (2nd in 2007 by Philadelphia)

These players have led the United States to a lot of international success. Since 2006, in the World U18 Championships they have won four gold medals (2006, 2009-2012), one silver (2007) and one bronze (2008). They have a 19-6-1 record with five championships in the Four Nations Tournament in that span and since 2008 a 20-5 record with three first-place finishes and one second, one third and one fourth-place finish in the Five Nations Tournament.

When it comes to major junior, the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires’ seven draftees are three more than the Kitchener Rangers and Western League’s Vancouver Giants. Taken from the Spitfires are:

  • Anaheim’s Cam Fowler (selected 12th overall in 2010 by Anaheim)
  • Boston’s Lane MacDermid (112th in 2009 by Boston)
  • Edmonton’s Taylor Hall (1st in 2010 by Edmonton)
  • Nashville’s Ryan Ellis (11th in 2009 by Nashville)
  • New Jersey’s Adam Henrique (82nd in 2008 by New Jersey)
  • NY Islanders’ Josh Bailey (9th in 2008 by NY Islanders)
  • Philadelphia’s Eric Wellwood (172nd in 2009 by Philadelphia)
Taylor Hall's time in Wondsor allowed him to be taken first overall in 2010. (Tabercil/Wikimedia Commons)

Taylor Hall’s time in Wondsor allowed him to be taken first overall in 2010. (Tabercil/Wikimedia Commons)

The Spitfires have been one of the most successful major junior franchises in recent years. They failed to make the playoffs in the 2006-07 season with a team that featured Henrique, Bailey and Wellwood, but between ’07-08 and ’09-10, they never finished with fewer than 41 wins and 94 points, finishing third in the Western Conference once and first twice, leading the league with 115 points in ’08-09.

Windsor took home the J. Ross Robertson Cup as OHL champions in 2009 and 2010, taking home the Memorial Cup both seasons with the help of a couple of stacked rosters. Hall and Ellis had 36 and 31 points respectively in the 2009 playoffs and in 2010 Hall nearly matched that mark with 35 points and Ellis posted 33 while Henrique had 20 goals in 19 games, displaying the kind of clutch scoring he showed while helping New Jersey to the Stanley Cup final last season.

The Vancouver Giants have been the top development team in the WHL recently. Players selected are:

  • Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher (selected 147th overall in 2010 by Montreal)
  • Nashville’s Jonathon Blum (23rd in 2007 by Nashville)
  • Winnipeg’s Evander Kane (4th in 2009 by Atlanta)
  • Winnipeg’s James Wright (117th in 2008 by Tampa Bay)
Evander Kane went fourth overall after three seasons with the Vancouver Giants. (Sam Chan/Wikimedia Commons)

Evander Kane went fourth overall after three seasons with the Vancouver Giants. (Sam Chan/Wikimedia Commons)

Blum, Kane and Wright won the Memorial Cup with the Giants when they hosted the tournament in 2006-07 and Blum was there the season before when Vancouver won the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL Champions. The four of them have helped to create a strong team in Vancouver and although they have struggled this season with a 15-43-2 record, between 2005-06 and ’11-12 they averaged 45 wins and 96 points.

In the Quebec Major Junior League, no team has produced more than two 23-and-under NHLers:

They are the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (formerly the St. John’s Fog Devils)

  • Buffalo’s T.J. Brennan (selected 31st overall in 2007 by Buffalo)
  • St. Louis’ Jake Allen (34th in 2008 by St. Louis)

The Drummondville Voltigeurs

  • Florida’s Dmitry Kulikov (14 in 2009 by Florida)
  • Philadelphia’s Sean Couturier (8th in 2011 by Philadelphia)

    Back-to-back 96-point seasons led Sean Couturier to be taken 8th in 2011. (Tim Kolupanowich/CM)

    Back-to-back 96-point seasons led Sean Couturier to be taken 8th in 2011. (Tim Kolupanowich/CM)

The Gatineau Olympiques

  • Calgary’s Paul Byron (179th in 2007 by Buffalo)
  • Philadelphia’s Tye McGinn (119th in 2010 by Philadelphia)

And the St. John Sea Dogs

  • Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau (3rd in 2011 by Florida)
  • Pittsburgh’s Simon Despres (30th in 2009 by Pittsburgh)

Finally, the Swedish Elite League has also been a solid spot for locating young talent, easily the best in Europe. The 12-team league is the highest level of hockey in Sweden and it is the fourth-highest paid league in the world. Leading the way with three draftees each is:

Djurgardens IF Stockholm

  • Chicago’s Marcus Kruger (selected 149th overall in 2009 by Chicago)
  • New Jersey’s Jacob Josefson (20th in 2009 by New Jersey)
  • Ottawa’s Mika Zibanejad (6th in 2011 by Ottawa)

Skelleftea HC

  • Columbus’ Tim Erixon (23rd in 2009 by Calgary)
  • New Jersey’s Adam Larsson (4th in 2011 by New Jersey)
  • Phoenix’s David Rundblad (17th in 2009 by St. Louis)

And Vastra Frolunda HC

  • Dallas’ Philip Larsen (149th in 2008 by Dallas)
  • Detroit’s Joakin Andersson (88th in 2007 by Detroit)
  • Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson (15th in 2008 by Ottawa)

    The NHL's top defenseman last season, Karlsson started his career in the highest league in his native Sweden. (BridgetDS/Flickr)

    The NHL’s top defenseman last season, Karlsson started his career in the highest league in his native Sweden. (BridgetDS/Flickr)

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