Caps Get Boyd From U.S. NDTP in Sixth

Posted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel

In the 15 years since the creation of USA Hockey’s National Development Team Program, the team’s footprint has grown bigger and bigger at the NHL’s annual Entry Draft. Washington dipped a toe into the NDTP draft waters over the weekend, using its sixth-round choice (177th overall) to select center Travis Boyd. The Hopkin’s Minn. native played his hockey for the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based team in each of the last two seasons. “For me, I thought it was an easy decision,” says Boyd of his seasons in Ann Arbor. “Playing for your country is obviously something you can’t describe. You can’t beat that. When you get the offer, you almost can’t turn it down. It’s almost disrespectful.” Since its inception in 1996, the U.S. NDTP has been preparing players for NCAA hockey and other rungs on the ladder up to the NHL. A few dozen of its players have reached the NHL, and the NDTP has had a big impact on recent drafts. The youngest player chosen in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Boyd doesn’t turn 18 until Sept. 14, one day before the cutoff for this year’s draft. Boyd was one of 11 members of the U.S. U-18 NDTP to hear his name called in the 2011 draft; at least one player from the NDTP was chosen in each of the seven rounds, including three in the first. “They’ve done a really good job there,” says Caps general manager George McPhee of the U.S. NDTP. “It was a pretty neat concept when they came up with it – to try and bring together the top players in the country – and they’ve gotten great results from it in international tournaments, but also in developing players. “Kids usually have a pretty good pedigree when they play for that program to be there in the first place. It’s just a neat year of exposure for them, to play in international tournaments and to play all these different teams that they play. “We think the kid that we selected has good hockey sense and good hands and he competes. After a few years at school, he’s got a chance to play.” Boyd played mostly a support role for the U.S. NDTP in 2010-11, posting credible numbers (five goals and 13 assists for 18 points in 24 games) in the process. “I expected to get drafted in the later rounds,” says Boyd. “It was kind of nerve-wracking to start. I didn’t really expect Washington; I never talked to them. When I heard it was Washington’s pick and they called me, I was, ‘Whoa.’ But it’s awesome because Washington is a great place, a good team and I’m happy to go there.” Boyd’s immediate future involves another dream come true for him, playing for the vaunted Golden Gophers in his home state of Minnesota. “It’s a place I’ve wanted to play since I was three,” says Boyd. “That’s another thing you get that offer and it’s right away, no doubt.” As a freshman at U. of Minn. in 2011-12, Boyd will have to carve out a role for himself and find a way to snatch ice time that generally gets spread among upperclassmen. “It should be a tough adjustment,” admits Boyd. “Being out in Ann Arbor, everyone gets a chance. It just means I have to get out there and prove myself and get myself on the power play. It’s all up to me. If I play well enough, then hopefully I should be put on the power play.” The Gophers are happy to have Boyd and they believe his versatility will make him a fine addition to their storied hockey program. “Travis is a skilled center,” says Gophers head coach Don Lucia. “He sees the ice exceptionally well and is a tremendous playmaker. He is good on draws. He can play on the power play on the half wall and can kill penalties. I think as he adds strength that he will be able to play in any situation that we have going into the next few years.” Listed at 5-foot-10 and a half and 185 pounds, Boyd knows he needs to work on getting bigger and stronger as he readies himself for his next step. “Right now I‘d say keep getting stronger and keep getting faster,” he says when asked about what’s on his horizon. “Minnesota has a great strength program. I’m happy I’m going to be there all summer. We’ve already started working out. I’m also doing some skating stuff so I can get faster. A little more strength, a little more speed; that would be great.” Boyd cites one current and one former player when asked about those who have sparked inspiration in him over the years. “Lately, I like watching Claude Giroux from Philly,” says Boyd. “I think I play a pretty similar game to him. When I was younger I was a big fan of Joe Sakic back when he was playing.” With the momentous draft weekend now behind him, Boyd can no set about getting ready for his freshman season with the Gophers. For him, last week was almost a reunion of sorts. He got to spend some quality time with us U.S. NDTP program teammates as their hockey paths begin to diverge. “It’s been a lot of fun,” says Boyd. “I got to see most of my team that I haven’t seen in a month or so. It was nice to see everyone and exciting to see all the guys [get drafted] [Friday] night and [Saturday]. I’m happy for them.” International Scouting Service (ISS) ranked Boyd 172nd among draft eligible skaters and had these comments in its thumbnail sketch of him: • Draft sleeper • Youngest player in the draft • Excellent hands • Nice toe-drag move • Quick, shifty skater • Good vision

Impact of U.S. NDTP in Recent Drafts In 2011, three first-rounders and 11 overall (five in first two rounds) In 2010, three first-rounders and 10 overall (seven in first two rounds) In 2009, one first-rounder and 10 overall (seven in first two rounds) In 2008, eight players, but first one wasn’t chosen until 56th overall (Danny Kristo to Montreal) In 2007, 13 players including three in first round (James Van Riemsdyk second overall) and nine of first 101 overall. Also, Patrick Kane was chosen first overall. He spent two seasons with NDTP before moving to London of OHL for his draft year. In 2006, 13 players including 11 of the first 110 and Erik Johnson first overall In 2005, eight players including Jack Johnson third overall and Jack Skille seventh

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Laich, McPhee Outtakes

January 14, 2013

In the process of my exclusive one-on-one interviews with Brooks Laich and George McPhee on Monday, there were a number of quotes that I didn’t use in today’s contract extension story on caps.com, but which you may find interesting or useful. Or not. Regardless, here they are. McPhee on whether he

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