In September 2017 another new tuition-free, Tier II, league will mark their inaugural season. This will add another 12 teams to the current two free to play leagues, the USHL and NAHL resulting in about 300 additional no fee roster spots. The new League is the National Collegiate Development Conference – NCDC, located in the Northeast.
The NCDC has 12 members which are the Boston Bandits, Junior Bruins, Connecticut Jr. Rangers, Islanders Hockey Club, Jersey Hitmen, New Jersey Rockets, New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs, Northern Cyclones, PAL Junior Islanders, Rochester Monarchs, South Shore Kings, and Syracuse Stars. The teams are located in the Northeast where a large number of NCAA Division I and III schools reside. It goes without saying that the league will offer great scouting and development opportunities.
The league was launched by the USPHL which does not belong to USA Hockey (governing body). They set different rules and regulations when it comes to imports. USA Hockey currently limits its members to a maximum of four foreign players (Canadians also are considered imports unless they played in the USA Hockey system for the last three years). The import rule for the NCDC is undecided at this point. By not belonging to USAHockey they are also not subject to the IIHF transfer fee!
The additional free-to-play roster spots will change the US Junior Hockey landscape. It will mean that Tier III teams will have to compete harder to attract quality players and it would not surprise me if some of the weaker organizations will fold.