NTDP Cole Eiserman look

Cole Eiserman of USA Hockey's National Team Development Program Under-18 Team is filing a draft diary for NHL.com this season leading up to the 2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft on June 28-29 at Sphere in Las Vegas.

The 17-year-old left wing (6-foot, 195 pounds) and native of Newburyport, Massachusetts, is No. 12 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2024 draft. He was second on the NTDP with 89 points (58 goals, 31 assists) in 57 games this season. He ranks first in NTDP history with 127 goals and 52 power-play goals. He scored the record-breaking 127th goal for the United States 8:31 into the second period of a 6-4 loss to Canada in the gold medal game of the 2024 IIHF World Under-18 Championship on May 5.

Hello hockey fans:

It was a tough finish to the season, losing to Canada in the final of the U-18 Worlds earlier this month. It's a shame that one game cost us, but I felt we played well. Sometimes things happen and you don't win a hockey game, but obviously it's a big game that we ended up losing, so it was tough.

It was pretty neat to set the record for career goals at the NTDP. Obviously, I've been asked about it a lot and it was something I wanted to do, but it's tough going for those individual things because winning is more important. Guys were great, though, trying to get me the puck and it was cool once I got it. I felt pretty relieved when it happened. It's one of those things I didn't think about it, but then it happens, and you think back on it a few weeks later and it is pretty cool.

I saw something on NHL Network where Cole Caufield (who held the previous record of 126 goals) was pretty complimentary of me passing him and that meant a lot coming from him, especially since he was busy playing for the United States at the World Championship. Many teammates from last year and this year congratulated me ... those guys gave me the puck a lot on tap-ins so without them I wouldn't have come close to the record.

I felt I was able to implement more of a defensive style to my game over the second half of the season. I think in doing that, it's all about protecting your goalie and not allowing the opposition easy chances. Instead of having that mindset of score, score, score, maybe taking the approach of not allowing them a goal is the better option. Getting back to help backcheck, getting the puck off the opponent's stick, blocking shots, and getting in the way to help your goalie, help your team, is huge.

I did watch the NHL Draft Lottery (on May 7) and thought it was kind of funny how nothing changed with the order but it's obviously pretty cool for some guys. We'll see what happens because a lot of crazy stuff happens on draft day.

I exchanged text messages with Macklin Celebrini (the projected No. 1 pick in the draft) and it was good to see that the San Jose Sharks got the first pick.

I'm now just looking forward to scoring well at the NHL Scouting Combine (June 2-8 in Buffalo). I think it's kind of the last impression I'll be able to make on some teams prior to the NHL draft, and I think it could help me. It's a pretty cool thing to do and you only do it once so might as well make the best of it.

I think I'm looking forward to the bike tests the most. I like how you can just let it all out and show how hard you can work. That's pretty cool and something I like to do.

When I think back on this year's team at the NTDP, I'll remember the hard times we went through, a lot of workouts, a lot of hard skates, a lot of stress on the body, and being together. Doing those things together is something that's special at the NTDP, so that's definitely the No. 1 thing I'll remember about this year.

Finally, I was asked to make my Stanley Cup Final predictions. I'm a Boston Bruins fan so I always root for the Bs, so I'll stick with them. In the Western Conference, I think the Dallas Stars will make it to the Cup Final because they're a wagon of a team right now. I'll take the Bruins to win it all.

Well, that's it for this month. Enjoy the Stanley Cup Playoffs and I'll file my next diary after testing at the NHL Combine.

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