The U.S. National Team Development Program announced its first eight commitments for next season’s U-17 team, and Everett draft pick Patrick Khodorenko was on the list. Khodorenko, who hails from California and was Everett’s second-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft, is an elite talent. However, he won’t be joining the Tips for his 16-year-old season.
This was not unexpected. Last August at training camp Khodorenko said he probably would join the NTDP if offered a spot, and the word all season long was that the NTDP wanted him. But it doesn’t mean all is lost for the Tips. Khodorenko will spend two seasons with the national team, then Everett will hope to recruit him for 2016-17, when he’s an 18-year-old.
This puts Khodorenko in the exact same position vis-a-vis the Silvertips as current NTDP player Auston Matthews. Matthews, a third-round bantam pick in 2012, has had a fantastic season with the U-17 national team, and he was recently one of two members of the U-17 team who were elevated to play at the U-18 World Championships in Finland.
Matthews is a late birthdate, meaning that once he’s done with his commitment to the NTDP, he’ll still have a season before he’s eligible for the NHL draft. An 18-year-old centering a top line in the WHL may have a better chance of showcasing himself to scouts than a college freshman getting fourth-line minutes. He’s also one of just six members of the U-17 team who have not committed to an NCAA school. Therefore, one has to think the Tips are still in the mix for Matthews for 2015-16.
Khodorenko, like Matthews, is a late birthdate, so he will also have a season to play between his national team commitment and his NHL draft. And unlike Matthews, Khodorenko has attended a training camp in Everett. So today’s news isn’t the end with regards to Khodorenko, it just means there will be two more years of speculation.