20 Prospects in 20 Days: Noah Hanifin

(Jon Quackenbos/Boston College)

(Jon Quackenbos/Boston College)

With only 10 days left until the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft in Florida, we will be breaking down a prospect each day up until June 26th. Today, we will take a closer look at defenseman Noah Hanifin.

(NHL.com)

Defenseman Noah Hanifin, Boston College (Hockey East), 18 years

Height: 6’2” Weight: 205 pounds, Shoots: Left

RANKED:

NHL Central Scouting: 3rd among North American Skaters

TSN: 3rd among all players

 2014-15 Stats: 37 games, 5 goals, 18 assists, 23 points, 16 penalty minutes

Hanifin is considered one of the best defensemen in the 2015 NHL Draft. Possessing good size, effortless skating ability, and an aggressive but smart defensive posture, Hanifin has the tools to be a top four defensemen in the NHL in the very near future. Hanifin joined Boston College, one of the top college hockey programs, at the age of 17 and was immediately inserted into the lineup. He finished the year with 23 points in 37 games, which are relatively modest offensive totals for a puck-moving defenseman, but Hanifin was frequently matched up against forwards who were  four or five years older than him.

The mobile, puck-moving defenseman finished the 2014-15 season with several honors, including Hockey East All-Rookie Team, the New England D1 All-Star team, and the Hockey East Second All-Star team.

There is some debate over Hanifin’s offensive upside. Some scouts do not see much high-end offensive potential and therefore do not consider him an elite talent. However, others feel that he has the ability to develop into a high-end offensive player, maybe not elite level, but a step below. He does not own the hardest shot, and while he is aggressive in possessing the puck, there is not a lot of risk in his game. Hanifin has the hockey IQ and puck skills to further develop the offensive side of his game though. And even if his offensive game never develops to elite levels, the big blueliner has all of the trappings of a top-pairing defenseman in the NHL. He drives possession when he is on the ice and is extremely good at transitioning the puck up ice.

The Massachusetts-born defenseman has been slated at third in most pre-draft rankings, just behind Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, but Hanifin is a candidate to drop a few spots on draft day. The 2015 draft is a deep one for forwards and there are a lot of rebuilding teams who need to add some offense to their roster. Most mock drafts have Hanifin going somewhere between the third and fifth spot in the draft, where the Coyotes, Leafs, and Hurricanes will be picking.

Given his size and smooth skating ability, Hanifin has drawn comparisons to St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. He will probably return to Boston College for one more year, but could be ready for NHL play as a 19-year-old.

 

Previously Seen in “20 Prospects in 20 Days”:

Ivan Provorov
Kyle Connor
Timo Meier
Dylan Strome
Mitch Marner
Mathew Barzal
Thomas Chabot
Evgeny Svechnikov
Mikko Rantanen
Ilya Samsonov