Recruiting Powerhouse: How USA Hockey NTDP Attracts Top High School Talent


USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (NTDP) is an elite development program for young American hockey players. Its primary goal is to develop top-tier talent for the US National Junior Team, which competes in the World Junior Championships. But the success of the NTDP goes well beyond just producing players for international competition. It has become a recruiting powerhouse, attracting top high school talent from across the nation.

The NTDP was founded in 1996 and is based in Plymouth, Michigan. It consists of an Under-17 and Under-18 team, made up of the best players in the country in their respective age groups. These players are chosen through a rigorous selection process that includes regional and national tryouts, as well as scouting at various youth tournaments. Once selected, they relocate to Plymouth and live together as a team, dedicating themselves to intense training and competition for the next two years.

So, what makes the NTDP such an attractive destination for top high school talent?

Elite Coaching and Resources

One of the biggest draws for young players is the opportunity to train and learn from top coaches in the game. The NTDP staff includes a roster of highly experienced and accomplished coaches, led by Seth Appert, a former Division I college coach and assistant coach for the US National Team.

Not only do the players have access to elite coaching, but they also have access to state-of-the-art facilities and resources. The NTDP facility in Plymouth boasts a 4,000-seat arena, a full gym, media center, and a top-of-the-line training center. These resources allow the players to train at the highest level possible, giving them an edge in their development.

Competitive Schedule and Exposure

The NTDP teams have a jam-packed schedule, competing in a mix of international tournaments, exhibition games against collegiate and professional teams, and regular season games against other elite youth teams in North America. This heavy schedule not only gives players the opportunity to compete at a high level on a consistent basis, but it also exposes them to scouts from various leagues and teams.

With scouts from NHL teams, USHL (United States Hockey League) teams, and Division I college hockey programs in attendance at games, players have the chance to showcase their skills and potentially catch the eye of a future employer. This exposure can be a huge benefit for players looking to further their hockey careers beyond the NTDP.

Strength of Schedule and Developmental Pathway

The NTDP teams not only compete against other elite youth teams, but they also face off against older, more experienced opponents. The U-17 team often competes against U-18 teams, while the U-18 team competes against collegiate and professional teams. This exposure to older and more skilled competition forces the players to elevate their games and develop faster.

Furthermore, the NTDP provides a clear developmental pathway for players looking to advance to the next level. Many players from the program go on to play for prestigious college programs, such as Boston University, Boston College, and the University of Michigan. From there, they have the opportunity to be drafted by an NHL team or continue their development in professional leagues like the American Hockey League or the ECHL.

Brotherhood and Bonding

One aspect of the NTDP that is often touted by players and alumni is the sense of brotherhood and bonding that occurs within the teams. Living and training together for two years creates a strong bond and a supportive environment for players. Many players have credited this brotherhood as a key factor in their development and success.

In addition, the players who come through the NTDP often form strong connections and relationships that last beyond their time in the program. This network of players and alumni can provide a support system as players move on to different teams and leagues, and even into their professional careers.

The USA Hockey NTDP has become a powerhouse in recruiting top high school talent. Its reputation for developing elite players, access to top coaching and resources, exposure to scouts and high-level competition, and the strong sense of brotherhood and bonding all contribute to its appeal for young players. The program continues to produce top talent, contributing to the growth and success of American hockey on all levels.


USA Hockey NTDP,

Elite Development Program,

High School Talent