Kris Baker of SabresProspects.com has submitted his annual rankings of the top 30 draft-eligible prospects. Check back each day as we prepare for the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida on June 26-27.
#3 – NOAH HANIFIN
|(Photo Credit: Getty Images) |
Defenseman, Boston College (H-East)
6’2.25”, 200 lbs.
Smooth and confident in his high-paced execution, Hanifin stands out as a future top-pair defender and all-situations impact player thanks to his supreme athleticism and smarts all over the ice.
The left-handed Hanifin is a proficient two-way stalwart because of his effortless skating and lateral agility. At 6-foot-2, the Massachusetts native can neutralize the opponents’ top forwards, but he also brings steady poise and intelligence to make creative offensive plays.
He’s a natural spark to the transition game as he rarely commits errors when exiting the zone and has the skating range to take the puck all the way to the net.
Hanifin applies sound positioning and tight gap control to contain the rush and push the action wide to the boards. Whether it’s his long reach used to disrupt the attack or proper timing when canceling out checks, Hanifin is simply a tough player to skate around. He doesn’t chase the big hit, but he can throw it when the opportunity is there.
Hanifin stepped into a key role as a 17-year-old freshman at Boston College, leveraging his mature work ethic to become an immediate impact player. He posted 23 points (5+18) in 37 games while committing just two minor penalties en route to earning Hockey East All-Rookie Team and Second Team All-Star honors.
Despite having the framework in place to skate at the NHL level as early as next season, the thought persists that one more year of NCAA action – including the opportunity to build additional strength and leadership skills – would serve Hanifin best in the long run.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker’s website, SabresProspects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@SabresProspects) for in-game updates throughout the week on any Buffalo prospects that are in action.