NCDC Alumni Profiles: San Jose Sharks’ Collin Graf

Action Photos Courtesy of The San Jose Sharks 


By Joshua Boyd /


The summer is upon us, and former NCDC standout, two-time Hobey Baker Top 10 finalist and two-time All-American Collin Graf is working towards what he hopes is a long 2024-25 season in the National Hockey League. 

Graf played in 191 combined regular season and playoff games with the Boston Junior Bruins in the NCDC, as well as in the USPHL 16U and 18U (now THF 16U and 18U) Divisions between 2016 and 2020-21, including 97 games in the NCDC. From there, it was on to what seemed like endless success at the NCAA Division I level – and all of this culminated in making his NHL debut on April 6, the first of seven games he would play with the San Jose Sharks to close the 2023-24 season. 


The Junior Bruin Days

Graf is thrilled that he was able to remain in the same organization in some of his most important developmental years, playing with the Boston Junior Bruins between the ages of 13 and 18. He was indeed just 13 going on 14 when he played his first USPHL 16U games in 2016-17, playing the majority of that season as a 14-year-old. He played in 59 games over parts of three seasons at the 16U level and scored 67 points before playing the majority of 2018-19 with the USPHL 18U squad as a 16-year-old. Again, “playing up” didn’t change anything in terms of his contributions – he scored 29 points in 30 USPHL 18U games, earning his spot as a 17-year-old with the NCDC Junior Bruins. 

“I think the USPHL experience was great. I played 16U, 18U and NCDC with the Junior Bruins, so I’d say that was a little different path from a lot of guys, especially in Massachusetts,” added Graf. “All the coaches in all the same organization are working with you and all are trying to get you to that NCAA Division I level, and obviously it worked out with me getting that NCAA Division I commitment.” 

Graf’s second season, in which he scored 54 points in 42 games as the NCDC Junior Bruins’ captain, saw the majority of games played that season in Florida as part of the Hub City Tampa six-week event, which featured players living and competing in a closed community setup, traveling only between their accommodations on a resort and the rinks where they played. 

“In that COVID year, we went to [Hub City Tampa]. That was a really good idea that the NCDC had, because a lot of guys weren’t playing or were not playing as much as we were,” said Graf. “That helped me a lot and prepared me for that D1 year in college hockey.”  


Shark Weeks

On April 6, Graf pulled on that well-known Teal jersey and hit the ice for the traditional solo rookie lap to open warmups. In his second game one day later, Graf registered an assist on Luke Kunin’s 10th goal of the season for his first NHL point. He also earned an assist in his final game of the 2023-24 on April 18 against Calgary. 

“It’s super exciting. You obviously want to get that first goal, I’m still working towards that, but I’m happy that I could contribute to the scoresheet with a couple of assists. It’s exciting to help the team win,” said Graf. 

It’s a whole new world on NHL ice, and Graf is glad he was able to put his mark on the game for his team in a short period of 12 April days. 

“It’s obviously everyone’s dream to make the NHL, and to be able to do that at the end of the year was very exciting. Going right from school, it was obviously a quick turnaround at the end of the Quinnipiac season, but I had a lot of fun in San Jose,” said Graf. “There are definitely some big differences [between NCAA D-I hockey and the NHL]. The first thing is that the plays flow quicker. Guys are faster and smarter, and defensively, guys can shut down offensive chances a lot quicker. In college, it’d be 3 seconds to think about what you can do and make a play, and in the NHL, it’s less than a second. The physicality is different too, going from college kids to men, but the pace of play and the speed are the big differences.” 

He is working towards a potential return with the Sharks, having recently taken part in the Sharks’ Development Camp, alongside former Junior Bruins teammate Cameron Lund, a 2022 second round draft selection by San Jose.

When he made that April debut, Graf was excited that his family was able to join him from their home in Lincoln, Mass., not far from where he played his USPHL hockey with the Boston Junior Bruins in Marlborough, Mass. 

“My family flew out from Boston for my first three home games – my Mom, Dad and brother watched the first games. My brother is in high school and had to go home for a math test, so he wasn’t there for the third game, but it was awesome seeing my family there, being able to talk to them and letting them be able to witness my first game.”


Big-Time Bobcat

All of his efforts this year paid off, including being named the ECAC Hockey Player Of The Year after his junior season with Quinnipiac University. As good of a hockey player as Collin Graf is, he’s also sharp as a tack when it comes to academics. Graf was named to both the ECAC Hockey All-Academic Team as well as the Krampade Academic All-American team. He was one of four players in NCAA hockey to be named to both the CCM/AHCA All-American team for on-ice performance and the Academic All-American team, and the second time he’s done so. 

“Quinnipiac does a really good job of being able to balance academics and athletics, whether it be teachers knowing you’re going to miss classes on a Thursday and Friday when you’re on the road and being really responsive, and easy on us to catch up on work and meet with them to be able to have a high GPA,” Graf said. “I think QU does a really good job of making us dial in on school.”

They also put out some pretty darned good hockey teams. In 2022-23, Quinnipiac won its first NCAA National Championship in their ninth of 10 all-time trips to the NCAA tournament since 2002, with Graf contributing 59 of the 108 points he registered in two seasons at QU in 75 games. 

“It was exciting obviously coming back to Quinnipiac for my junior year. The main goal was to win a National Championship and get back to the Frozen Four. We got a bit short of that, too bad, but overall on a personal level, it was a lot of fun to get to play at QU. I had a good year, and I’m excited to be with San Jose.”

Just being with San Jose only means that he remains under contract with the NHL team. He still has to get to camp ready to be the best version of himself in order to get back in the lineup when the start of the NHL season in October swings around. 

“I think my off-season plan, after getting to play those games, is to be physically more prepared for a long professional season,” said Graf. “My off-season plans are getting bigger, adding a little weight to fight off those men in the corners, and to make plays quicker.” 

The NCDC and USPHL congratulate Collin Graf for his success in making the NHL and wish him the best of luck in the coming seasons.