Just to get it out of the way I have no delusions about my kids or anyone I know making the USNTDP. That said I'm curious what the path is for players who find their way onto these teams. Is it really all through the state selections and regional development camps? If so what happens from there, they get selected at the state level, go the regional camps and then get offered more opportunities based on performance at the camp? Obviously your dad and/or siblings playing in the NHL helps you get noticed but what's it like for the other players? Anyone have any real world experience with the USNTDP?
National festivals are always a big factor in evaluating kids, but there is a 2-year recruiting window where NTDP staff travels to watch kids play in all formats.
They have regional scouts that have been paying attention since Bantams and the top 2 player personnel guys go coast-to-coast to watch kids play, even outside the national camps.
Aside from kids with name recognition and lineage, they will always look at kids who play up first. If there are kids (like this year's 05s playing U16) who are standing out while playing up, those kids immediately get circled. About half of this year's U17 team played up as 15 yr olds.
At the end of the day, the kid needs to be elite, at least in a specific area or two. They want to take well-rounded kids who they know can be coached and are likely to develop in their 2 years in MI.....but usually, it's hard to deny talent, and the top 1/3 of the team is regarded as 'no brainer' selections.
In the end, even if your kid gets the decline letter instead of the invite, they will continue to keep tabs on kids who were in the mix and were considered. There will be injuries and other situations that may require that they call up kids to fill in and play some games.