Serron Noel is hoping to "turn some heads" when he returns to South Florida in September.
At last month's development camp, the Florida Panthers 2018 second-round pick acted like a sponge throughout the annual four-day clinic that featured many of the team's top prospects, soaking up all of the information he could while working closely with both coaches and trainers.
"I'm just focusing on getting better, talking to the coaches and learning much as I can at this camp," Noel said after his first on-ice session at the Panthers IceDen in Coral Springs. "I'm going to train hard this summer and try and give myself the best shot at being here full-time.
"It's really exciting. It's all based off what I do...I'm going to keep working and keep getting better here and then try to come into main camp and turn some heads a little bit… It starts now and then continues every day from now."
At a hulking 6-foot-5 and 211 pounds., Noel is easily one of the biggest prospects - both in terms of size and expectations - in Florida's deepening pool. And despite not turning 19 years old until early August, he already towers over most of his teammates.
He's been advertised as a power forward, but also has also shown quite the scoring touch.
This past season, he really took his game to another level, setting career-highs in goals (34), assists (47) and points (81) in 68 regular-season games with the Oshawa Generals. He also helped Oshawa reach the semifinals of the OHL playoffs, registering four goals and 11 points.
For his efforts, he was named the top forward on the Generals for the 2018-19 campaign.
"It was obviously a pretty good season," said Noel, whose 81 points ranked 22nd in the league. "We got out in the third round there. I'm hoping that next year that if I'm back in the OHL that it'll be our year. We've got a good group of guys back in Oshawa that can really do some damage."
On March 8, Noel put pen to paper on a three-year, entry-level contract with the Panthers.
"It was obviously really exciting to get that done," said Noel, who added that he received a call from President of Hockey Operations & General Manager Dale Tallon shortly after signing first NHL contract. "The work starts now. They've all given me a lot of good advice and told me to be confident and that I'm here and that I definitely have a shot if I put in the work and get better."
When it comes to his future, Noel is thinking more about that work than where he'll be playing.
Given his age, his options next season will be limited to either playing for the Panthers or going back to juniors for his fourth season in the OHL. Neither is hardly considered a bad option, and the promising young forward is willing to take whatever hand he's dealt and give it his all.
But that doesn't mean he's not going to do everything he can this summer to try and make sure he's on ice when Florida opens up its highly anticipated 2019-20 campaign in Tampa on Oct. 3.
In looking at what he needs to do in order to make that happen, Noel said he needs to continue building up his strength to match his size. Whether it's working on his lower-body or upper-body, he believes that once he's gotten his overall strength to where it needs to be, speed will follow.
"I'm taking everything we learned from the coaches here and all the training staff here and applying it on the ice and in the gym," Noel said of his workout plans for the summer. "It's all definitely going to make me better. This is where the work really starts."
If Noel doesn't end up playing in Florida this season, which would be quite the feat for a player of his age if he did, Panthers Director of Player Personnel Bryan McCabe thinks that earning a place on Canada's roster for the 2020 World Junior Championship should be one of his goals.
"There's no reason he can't carve out a role on that World Junior team," McCabe said. "He's a big power forward. He goes to the hard areas. When he's on, he's unstoppable at times. At the OHL level, I've seen it a couple of times. It's just a matter of getting his game consistently at that level. We talked to him at length about that, things like ways to prepare and ways to make sure you don't have those ups and downs in your game. He's obviously going to work at it."
That being said, McCabe added that he "wouldn't be surprised" if Noel makes some noise at training camp.
"You never know," McCabe said. "He could open up some eyes at camp here and stick around a little while."