Many 18 year-olds spend their time worrying
about mid-term exams, relationships with their dormmates, and generally finding
a way through their first year of college. Noah Hanifin is no exception, only
this 18 year-old’s worries are about lining up across from Alex Ovechkin,
rooming with center Nathan Gerbe, and generally trying to keep from letting his
team or the thousands of Carolina fans down.
Born in 1997 in Norwood, Massachusetts,
Hanifin developed his hockey skills at Saint Sebastian’s School, known for
having one of the top hockey programs in the US. Hanifin played for the US
Under 17 team but was quickly bumped up to the Under 18 national team as an
underage player. Hanifin then fast-tracked his high school graduation in order
to play at Boston College as a 17 year-old. After only one season the defensive
phenom entered the 2015 Entry Draft and wound up with the Hurricanes as the 5th
overall selection. Signed to a three-year deal Hanifin made his debut on
October 8th of last year and has so far been able to do what very
few defensemen have done, crack an NHL roster while still a teenager, and he
seems to be doing it quite well.
Noah’s unique combination of physical size,
defensive skill, and mental maturity has helped him hold his own in a world he
has very little experience for. “In the NHL, everything’s so fast and you
need to do everything the right way,” Hanifin said. “That’s the biggest thing.
Your job is always on the line in the NHL.” While 3 goals and 14 assists might
not be all-star numbers it’s worth remembering that just three seasons ago this
future star was still playing high school hockey in Massachusetts. The
Hurricane’s maintain that some grooming in the AHL might be in order but
everyone seems to agree that simply might not be necessary. Hanifin, however,
is the first to admit that he still has a lot to learn. “I’m not where I want
to be yet,” he says. “It’s my first year, and I’m 18. It’s more of a learning
experience. I still have a long ways to go.”
games under his belt Noah Hanifin has a solid taste of life at the NHL level.
There is no question about his talent. All that remains to be seen is what kind
of point producer he will turn into as he gains confidence and experience both
on and off the ice. The future is bright for what most consider the best
defensive prospect in the game today but he still has a long road ahead. On the
bright side, he doesn’t have to worry about any final exams.
Labels: Michael Quinn