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Draft Central Player Profile: Noah Hanifin

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs

While there has been plenty of focus on the top two draft eligible centres this summer, the top defenceman will be much more than a consolation prize.

Noah Hanifin has been going about his business at Boston College for the past season as the youngest player in team history. Despite his youth, he finished second among BC defenders in scoring and five points out of the team lead with 23 points in 37 games. Only Michael Matheson — a 2012 Panthers first rounder — outscored him among fellow Eagles blueliners.

Hanifin has represented the United States at multiple levels in his young career. He captained Team USA at last year's U-17 tournament and won a gold medal. He also won gold at the U-18 Worlds the same year. This past winter he was on the American World Junior team and recorded a pair of assists in five games.

At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Hanifin has NHL size on the back end. Not only can he impose himself on smaller players, he is a supremely talented offensive player. He excels in the transition game and makes positive plays with the puck. He is a clever player that makes the smart play with regularity. If Hanifin is leading the rush you can expect him to find a teammate or create a chance for himself.

He is an ideal two-way defender. Not only is he is well suited to quarterback your power play, if we're doing a famous internet litmus test, you also wouldn't have any concerns about having him in the defensive zone with less than a minute left.

Knocks on Hanifin's game are largely few and far between. His shot is viewed as the tool lagging behind the rest of his offensive skillset, but it's hard to fathom that holding him back as a professional. Some will also take exception with his lack of overt physicality. When you think the game as well as he does it's a rare instance you need to bully your opponent.

Don't expect Hanifin to have his name called later than fifth.

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