While at least the first two picks of the 2015 NHL Draft are likely to be forwards, defenseman Noah Hanifin shouldn’t have to wait too long to hear his name called.
Hanifin is a 6-foot-3, 203-pound United States-born blueliner who is considered to be the best defensive prospect available in this year’s draft. NHL’s Central Scouting ranks him third overall among North American skaters.
“He’s a big man,” said Tony MacDonald, the Canes’ chief amateur scout. “He plays a very efficient and effective game.”
Like fellow American defenseman Justin Faulk, Hanifin is a product of the United States National Team Development program, as he competed with Team USA in the 2013-14 season. In 2014-15, he skated in his freshman season at Boston College, becoming the youngest player ever to play for the Eagles at age 17.
|HOMETOWN: NORWOOD, MASS. |
|HEIGHT: 6'3" |
|WEIGHT: 203 |
|BIRTHDAY: JAN. 25, 1997 (AGE 18) |
“He’s a solid defender,” MacDonald said. “He can move the puck and skate the puck out. He seems to be a solid character guy.”
Hanifin, 18, recorded 23 points (5g, 18a) in 37 games with Boston College, third-most among freshman NCAA Division I defensemen.
“He’s got some offensive dimension to his game, although that wouldn’t necessarily be his greatest strength at this point in time,” MacDonald noted. “His greatest strength right now is that he’s a big man who skates well.”
Internationally, Hanifin boasts golden credentials. He captained Team USA to a gold medal at the 2014 World U-17 Hockey Challenge with three points (1g, 2a) in six games. He also captured gold with the American squad at the 2014 U-18 World Junior Championship with five points (1g, 4a) in seven games, good for second-best among tournament defensemen. Most recently, Hanifin competed with Team USA at the 2015 World Junior Championship and notched two assists in five contests.
Hanifin, who says he patterns his game after the Los Angeles Kings’ Drew Doughty, possesses the qualities that are going to allow him to be a two-way, defensive stud in the NHL. He’s big, he’s composed and positionally sound and he has the poise and hockey sense to move the puck effectively in transition.
It’s no wonder why he figures to be one of the top players selected in Florida on June 26.
“There’s not much not to like about Noah Hanifin,” MacDonald said. “He should play in the NHL for a long, long time.”