Is it time to send Noah Hanifin to Charlotte?

Is it time to send Noah Hanifin to Charlotte?

First, let me address all of the violent objections, conspiracy theories and unwarranted interpretations. It is not because he is not good enough Overall, I have been impressed by Hanifin’s play overall and would rate him as ‘slightly better than hoped for’ at this early stage of his development. He clearly comes with the raw physical skills that got him drafted fifth overall in a strong draft. He has not been overmatched physically. And the biggest positive for me in watching Hanifin is his ability to play hockey skating backwards without the puck. He is actually a pretty good defender. He is comfortable maintaining small gaps. He uses his size and reach well. And he skates well enough to hang with NHL speed coming at him. This is a critical and in my opinion the most important checkpoint whenever a ‘great skating young defenseman’ comes along. Too often ‘great skating’ means dynamic on offense with the puck on their stick but oftentimes are still back at level 1 in terms of that all-important defense thing. That is not the case with Noah Hanifin. Put more simply, he can play defense. He is making a few too many mistakes for a good NHL defenseman right now, but I think that is to be expected with the big jump from college hockey and the very early stage of gaining experience. Shorter version: Considering giving Hanifin some time in Charlotte is a not based on a negative assessment of his play thus far or inability to play at the NHL level.   And it is not because the team will try to preserve...
First impressions of Noah Hanifin through 3 games

First impressions of Noah Hanifin through 3 games

And just like that we are 3 games into Noah Hanifin’s career as an NHL defenseman.  He obviously entered training camp with incredibly high long-term expectations and also a fairly high chance that he would start immediately at the NHL level.  3 games is NOT enough time to make any calls on his long-term future, but I think it is enough time to get a first impression about where he is, what he needs to work on and where he might be headed. Physical readiness.  At the most basic level, I think Noah Hanifin has shown that he is ready to compete at the NHL level.  Many players regardless of skill and talent level just are not ready for the NHL at age 18 because they are not yet mature enough physically.  At 6-3 and 205 pounds easily with above average skating ability Noah Hanifin is physically ready to play in the NHL and has shown it over 3 games.  He does not at all look like a boy against men out there physically. Game speed/decision-making.  In terms of his readiness for playing the game at NHL speed and sorting things out, he has looked better than expected.  The volume and level of mistakes he makes are high for a good NHL defenseman, but I think that is to be expected early on after making a huge jump from college straight to the NHL. He will need to tighten up his game, and I think he will over the course of the season. The question is how much and how fast.  Aaron Ekblad seemed to figure it out almost...
Expectations for Noah Hanifin heading into training camp?

Expectations for Noah Hanifin heading into training camp?

I spent the last three days of Daily Cup of Joe looking at what would be good next steps in their development for various young Canes and future Canes. All of these players have some track record in the organization and some time in training camp if not in the regular season. But when talking about the future of the Canes and looking only at players who have seen a training camp, the unaddressed elephant in the room is Noah Hanifin. When the Canes drafted him #5 overall in the 2015 NHL draft, he immediately vaulted to the top of the Canes prospect list and became an exciting part of the Carolina Hurricanes future. In September, he will obviously be making his first visit to the Carolina Hurricanes training camp. The long-term expectations for Noah Hanifin are huge, but what exactly does it mean for the 2015-16 season? –Will he make the opening day roster? –Is he ready for the NHL now or will it take some time? –Where does he slot if he does make the team out of training camp? I think the key is patience. Aaron Ekblad and his ability to step into the NHL seemingly as a first pairing defenseman did not do any favors for the top-tier blue line draftees that will follow him. But I think a defenseman draftee tour past Ekblad is important for setting realistic expectations. The 2nd defenseman taken in 2014 (Canes own Haydn Fleury at #7) stayed in Canadian juniors for his first season after being drafted. Seth Jones who was the 1st defenseman drafted in 2013 jumped straight...