Koules, Hartman CHL bound

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The Canadian Hockey League can add another pair of potential collegiates to their ranks starting next season.

According to Future Considerations’ Brian Huddle, Miles Koules is set to join the Medicine Hat Tigers next season. Koules, who was committed to North Dakota, confirmed the news via Twitter Saturday.

A day later Ryan Hartman joined Koules, announcing his decision to join the Plymouth Whalers next season via his Twitter.

Koules is the third player from the National Team Development Program to decommit to North Dakota in favor of the CHL in a little less than a year. J.T. Miller was the first, after bolting from his North Dakota letter of intent a less than a month after being drafted by the New York Rangers in the first round last summer. Miller just completed his first season with the Plymouth Whalers.

Current NTDP forward Stefan Matteau also had second thoughts about North Dakota, decommitting in January. He would later announce he would play for the Blainville-Boisbraind Armada next year where his dad, Stephane, is an assistant coach. Matteau had signed a letter of intent to play for North Dakota less than three months before he changed his mind. Like Matteau, Koules had also signed a letter of intent with North Dakota this past fall.

Signs Koules was on the move began when his rights were traded from the Everett Silvertips to Medicine Hat at the WHL trade deadline in January. FC’s Huddle reported that shortly after the deal, Koules’ camp began to have second thoughts about his commitment to North Dakota. On Friday, Koules told North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol that he would not be joining the team next season.

Hartman will join Miller in Plymouth rather than playing for the Dubuque Fighting Saints next season. Hartman’s decision is based on the tough situation he is faced with being a junior in high school this season despite aging out of the NTDP. The West Dundee, Ill. native attempted to accelerate his education this year but was unsuccessful. Hartman was committed to play for Miami (Ohio) University for the 2013-14 season but did not sign a National Letter of Intent.

The decision is much like former NTDP’s Reid Boucher, who chose to play in Sarnia this season rather than play for the Youngstown Phantoms for his senior year and then follow through with his commitment to Michigan State. Though unlike Boucher, who went in the fourth round to New Jersey last June, Hartman is not draft eligible this season as he missed the cut off by six days. Hartman was selected by Plymouth in fifth round of the 2009 Priority Selection.

With Matteau, Hartman, and Koules committed to CHL teams for next season, this year’s crop of NTDP players bolting for the CHL could very well surpass last season’s mark of four. With Seth Jones visiting the Portland Winterhawks this weekend, the number could be matched as early as this week. Last summer saw Miller, Connor Murphy (Miami), John Gibson (Michigan), and Reid Boucher (Michigan State, 2012-13) all opt out of their respective college commitments to play in the OHL.

Of the remaining players moving on from the National Team Development Program, 14 were drafted or have their rights owned by a CHL team. These same players all have college commitments for next season or the 2013-14 season.

The battle for these players will continue long into the summer. For right now, it is a waiting game for draft enthusiasts to see where these players end up in the Fall.

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