Noah Hanifin: 2016-17 Carolina Hurricanes report card

Noah Hanifin: 2016-17 Carolina Hurricanes report card

For anyone catching up, a menu of previous player (and also coaching and GM) report cards can be found at the bottom of the article. Noah Hanifin’s starting point for the 2016-17 season Noah Hanifin was drafted with the fifth overall selection in the 2015 NHL draft and then jumped straight into the NHL as a 19-year old with only one season of NCAA experience. The jump was a sizable one, and the range of possible outcomes was just as big, ranging from an Aaron Ekblad-level miracle to a clear indication that some time in the AHL was a better starting point. Noah Hanifin landed in the middle of the two extremes for his rookie season in 2015-16. He started at the NHL level but in a somewhat limited role as a third pairing defenseman who was sheltered to some degree. He looked physically ready with his already top-end skating ability but clearly had work to do in terms of decision-making and positioning at NHL speed and other details. When I net out Hanifin’s rookie season in 2015-16, I would say that he was not an Aaron Ekblad-like instant winner, but he showed enough to emerge with every bit of the upside that made him the fifth overall pick still intact. He looked fine physically against NHL-level competition and proved to be just as good as advertised as a skater but had a ways to go in terms of the all-important defensive details. His offense as measured by 4 goals and 18 assists in 78 games with a reasonably healthy helping of power play ice time also left room...
Benchmarks in place for Noah Hanifin and on the upcoming schedule

Benchmarks in place for Noah Hanifin and on the upcoming schedule

When the Hurricanes fell down the standings in the 2014-15, the consolation prize was at least a good one – a good position for the 2015 NHL draft. The draft was deemed to be 1 of the deepest in recent history which 5-8 players thought to have elite potential. The Hurricanes landed at #5. The draft laid out that Connor McDavid would go first. Jack Eichel would go second. And then the trio of Dylan Strome, Mitch Marner and Noah Hanifin would go third through fifth with the order uncertain. With that being the case, the Hurricanes were in the middle of some trade rumblings but but most likely left with whoever was availabel at #5. The team and the fan base were both thrilled when the consensus best defenseman in the draft, Noah Hanifin, fell to the Hurricanes. Sitting at the bottom of the tier below the top 2 forwards, the selection of Noah Hanifin was a no-brainer and a cause for celebration and optimism for a fan base that needed it.   First impression at 2015 Hurricanes prospect camp But the path from top shelf draftee to elite NHL player can take time. Noah Hanifin first took the ice in Raleigh for the prospect in July of 2015 shortly after being drafted. My first impression of him was simply “Joni Pitkanen.” Despite being 18 years old, Noah Hanifin was already had NHL side and a smooth, effortless skating stride. And playing against other players his age, he had every bit of Joni Pitkanen’s comfort and willingness to play with the puck on his stick for as long...
The chicken and egg situation for Noah Hanifin

The chicken and egg situation for Noah Hanifin

Noah Hanifin: Getting his feet wet during 2015-16 season At the start of his rookie season as an 18-year old making the jump from college hockey straight to the NHL, Noah Hanifin started below the radar in a somewhat sheltered third pairing role. This made perfect sense as a way to give him time to get acclimated to the NHL without maximum pressure. I am also a huge fan of slotting young players in the middle part of the roster or lower and them moving them up when they earn it versus just pushing them up the depth chart based on draft pedigree as the team has done with Elias Lindholm. It is also important to strike a balance of optimism for eventual ceiling and patience, especially for young defensemen. But at some point, the hope is that Noah Hanifin will blossom into an elite NHL defenseman. And that obviously necessitates a move up the depth chart at some point.   Early read on 2016-17 season My assessment of his play thus far in 2016-17 is that he looks more comfortable and assertive with the puck on his stick especially compared to early in the 2015-16 season when he seemingly just tried to keep things safe and simple. But defensively, his development in terms of defensive zone coverage and sorting things out defending the rush is still a work in progress. He has been in the middle of his fair share or more of goals against. Important context for Hanifin’s play thus far in 2016-17 has been the revolving door for the partner slot next to him. In only...
Noah Hanifin charting a quiet but steady path upward

Noah Hanifin charting a quiet but steady path upward

When drafted #5 overall and as the first defenseman taken in the 2015 NHL draft, Noah Hanifin came with high expectations. After Aaron Ekblad was able to go straight from the 2014 draft seemingly into a top pairing role with only a single leap, at least the potential for immediate stardom was there. After a solid training camp in which Hanfin proved that he could compete at the NHL level, Noah Hanifin made the team straight out of training camp and started in a third pairing role alongside Ryan Murphy. He has not pulled an Aaron Ekblad, but then I am not sure that is a fair standard to hold any 18-year old to. He is still playing primarily on the third pairing. And with new Canes blue line stories popping up intermittently all season, Noah Hanifin has gone about his business about as quietly as is possible for an 18-year old (now 19) who is playing at such a high level immediately. But for those watching closely, he has been building his game and tracking toward reaching the high ceiling set for him even if it is not on the ‘immediately’ schedule. Some of subtle and less subtle steps in his development that I have noted are: —Assumption of primary role as puck carrier and more patience with the puck on his stick. Early in the season, Hanifin was quick to get the puck off his stick, move it forward and stay out of trouble almost to a fault. He generally looked to make quick plays forward and also seemed to defer almost too much to Ryan Murphy in...
7 D in 7 Days: Noah Hanifin – The future is now

7 D in 7 Days: Noah Hanifin – The future is now

If you missed the site update for Canes and Coffee’s 3-month anniversary and the request for feedback, please help out and go HERE. If you missed and want to catch up on parts 1-3 of this ‘7 D in 7 days series, here are links for John-Michael Liles (part 1), Ryan Murphy (part 2) and Brett Pesce (part 3). With that we turn to arguably the most exciting of the Hurricanes blue liners – Noah Hanifin. Entering the 2015-16 season, Noah Hanifin had probably the widest range of what was possible specifically for the current season. In general, even ultimately great defensemen usually take multiple years before they arrive at that destination but then there was that Aaron Ekblad anomaly from just last season.   Reasonable expectations based on recent defense draftees A recent rundown of top drafted defensemen goes like this: 2014: Aaron Ekblad who was selected first overall and looked like a top pairing defenseman shortly thereafter is the anomaly against which the optimists will benchmark Noah Hanifin’s progress in his first season, but the log below will show clearly how uncommon his success is. Haydn Fleury (#7 overall) who Canes fans know well is playing in his second season in Canadian juniors since being drafted. 2013: Seth Jones (#4 overall) made the jump straight to the NHL, but his progression while solid has been more gradual probably in part to Nashville having enough good veterans to slot above him. Darnell Nurse who was selected #7 overall just starting his NHL transition in earnest (did play 2 NHL games last season) this season. 2012: This draft year...