Marshall Warren felt he got better during every practice with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program Under-18 team.
Not just from the coaching, but who the defenseman was working against.
Warren is one of 19 NTDP players (17 skaters, two goalies) listed in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings for the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. The first round is June 21 (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS). Rounds 2-7 are June 22 (1 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN).
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That includes five forwards ranked among the top nine: Jack Hughes (No. 1), Alex Turcotte (No. 4), Trevor Zegras (No. 6), Cole Caufield (No. 8) and Matthew Boldy (No. 9). There also is Spencer Knight, No. 1 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American goalies.
"We always battle hard so going into practice with everyone," said Warren (5-foot-11, 170 pounds), who is No. 61 among North American skaters. "You know you have to push each other hard so I think that's driven us to be so competitive and do so well in the way we play. Our coach, John Wroblewski, the way he puts everyone in the system, he does a really good job of getting us together."
Warren had 34 points (eight goals, 26 assists) in 58 games despite being slowed for the first half of the season by a lower-body injury. He also had three assists in seven games to help the United States win the bronze medal at the 2019 IIHF World Under-18 Championship. He's committed to Boston College starting next season.
Video: Highlights of USA Hockey NTDP D-man Marshall Warren
Warren credits first-year NTDP associate coach Dan Hinote, who worked primarily with the defensemen, for helping him grow his game this season. Hinote played 503 NHL games with the Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues and won a Stanley Cup with the Avalanche in 2001.
"His influence on us has been something really special," Warren said. "Just being around him is something special, the stories that he tells us. If we ever need anything, just call him. That's just what makes him such a special person."
Warren said working with Hinote has helped him improve in all areas, especially his hockey IQ.
"When I first started coaching him he would make a read that even I didn't see and he would jump and disrupt the play or make an offensive play," Hinote said. "Out of curiosity I would ask him what his thought process was when he got back (to the bench) and he would explain to me what he saw and why he went, and every time it made perfect sense. He's a very dangerous player offensively and he's very combative defensively with obviously a great, athletic style of game. He's physical, he's fast, he's got a hard shot and good instincts."
An alternate captain with the NTDP, Warren has had a letter on his jersey for as long as he can remember. He attributes part of that to his family's background; one grandfather served in the United States Navy and the other worked with the Montford Point Marines, a military veteran's organization. He also has an uncle who was in the FBI.
"He's an unbelievable kid, his parents are great people, and you can tell he was raised the right way," Hinote said. "He's a great leader. He doesn't look at adversity like adversity. … You're going to be down at times, you're going to be behind and you're going to have valleys, and when you have that guy that's on the back end that's going, 'Guys, no problem, we've been here before, we know what to do, there's no need to panic,' that settles the team down and goes a long way."
Those qualities didn't go unnoticed by his teammates.
"He plays with his heart on his sleeve," said Hughes, the projected No. 1 pick in the draft and NTDP captain. "Just a guy that always brings it, is always working. He's a really good player. I've loved my time with Marshall and really respect him."
Warren began his career on the ice as a figure skater. His older sister, Arielle, remains a competitive figure skater, and Warren stayed with the sport for a few years before moving full-time into hockey. But he remains a fan of figure skating and credits it for helping him become the hockey player he is today.
"Skating's a big part of my game, so without figure skating I would not be here," he said.
Warren was shifted to defenseman when he was 10, and enjoys watching New York Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy. He also lists P.K. Subban of the Nashville Predators and Seth Jones of the Columbus Blue Jackets among his favorite players.
Hinote sees some of Subban's game in Warren, noting both players' versatility, skills and smarts when jumping into the rush, and their ability to be physical.
"He makes reads that maybe most people don't understand or see but more times than not he ends up with the puck and you think it's lucky until you see it over and over and over," Hinote said. "And then you realize that it's not luck, he just knows what he's doing."
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