Dylan Duke is a 2021 NHL Draft eligible player who was a top goal scorer with the NTDP this season. He was second to Sasha Pastujov in goals for the U18 squad with 29. That’s a nice year for a player who scores tough goals in the dirty areas and sometimes short-handed.
“That’s a huge part of my game and something I take pride in,” Duke answered. “I don’t think it’s ever going to leave my game. As you move up a level you always have to find a way to impact games and score goals. Goalies keep getting better, and so do defensemen. I’ll keep developing that hard nose, getting pucks out of the corner and to the front of the net.”
The Ohio native is keeping track of NHLers from that state, and so far, while getting a fair amount of zoom calls, he hasn’t gotten a call from his hometown Columbus Blue Jackets. They hold three first-round picks, so taking Duke with one of them would make sense.
“There’s guys that are coming up from Ohio. There are already players from Ohio in the NHL, and it’s really cool to see,” said Duke. “I still have a lot of family there, and younger cousins play hockey that are coming up.
“There’s been a decent amount of zoom calls from teams. They kind of pick up all at once. One week I won’t have any and the next week two or three. I haven’t done any calls with Columbus, but I would hope so. That would be a really cool spot, yeah, I hope so.”
Duke is headed to Michigan University, and he’s hoping to play with a trio of amazing players, including Owen Power, Kent Johnson, and Matty Beniers.
“It’s going to be an unbelievable experience. I already know Matty well. I’m excited to meet Kent Johnson and Owen Power. They are amazing players, so I think I can learn a lot from them all day. Whether it’s at the rink or not. They’re all great players and great people. I’m excited to see them and play on the same team as them.”
Playing in games like the All-American Prospects Game is a lot of fun for the players, and this year it was an opportunity to see some of these players live, possibly for the first time.
“I think my year went well. First and foremost, it was a bit of a crazy year, and I was grateful for everything USA Hockey did for us,” Duke stated. “The season they put on for us. It went well for me. I developed throughout the year. “It was cool that they were able to play that game. Growing up in Northville, Michigan, and being around the NTDP, that game happens every year, and you see the guys go through it. I went to last year’s game when the 02’s went through it. In previous years I watched it on T.V. It was a great experience.”
At the U18s, Team USA didn’t get the results they were looking for, but Duke did as he was voted a Top Three player on his team with three goals and four points in five games. There’s no doubt this game helped his draft buzz.
“Going into that tournament, it was all about the team. I went in with that mindset and trying to give the team the best chance to win,” Duke added. “I feel like you work your hardest for your team. That’s when you are also playing your best hockey at the same time. I think I had a strong tournament, and it can definitely help.”
All players are competitive but imagine he and his younger brother, Tyler (2022 draft eligible) playing roller hockey during the pandemic stoppage last year.
“He was also at the NTDP, so I think that was huge for us to be together,” the older brother said. “It was nice to have each other to push each other.”
Then I stated that I’m a younger brother and that older brother push, can be annoying to the younger brother.
“We spent a lot of time together, so we definitely got annoyed with each other,” he revealed. “We were playing roller hockey in the street with the mini nets, and we were starting to get a little competitive and our mom had to come out and be the ref. She didn’t want anyone to get hurt. We would tell her we had to finish, then we would go inside and kind of go at it about what happened in the game….She would separate us until we calmed down….It would get brought back up at the kitchen table. My dad (Steve, played for Western Michigan and the Johnstown Chiefs) would get home and ask questions, he loves the competitiveness, and it would start again when we would sit down for dinner.”
Speaking to Tyler Boucher, he loves Duke’s net front presence, but he panned his golf game, and Duke answered back to that.
“To be completely honest, my golf game isn’t at tip-top shape. I think Tyler hits the ball far, but once he gets around the green and gets putting and chipping, that’s where his game falls. He’s a little better than me right now but by the end of summer, I think I’m coming for him. He has a lot of power, but he struggles to keep balls in play, around the green, and that’s where I feel I can take advantage of him.”
Duke is an interesting person. He’s a Browns fan and a former Lacrosse player. He holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and Canada but has been playing for USA Hockey, and that’s good for their program as I think he will play for them throughout his career.