We start our coverage of the 2018 NHL Draft today with a prospect profile on Serron Noel. An intriguing forward with size and skill, Noel is projected anywhere from the mid to late 1st round on most draft boards. His goal scoring ability and defensive game are attractive aspects of his game and could make him an option for the Devils at 17th overall. Let’s get to know this prospect a bit more and see what he has to offer.
Who is Serron Noel?
According to his OHL page, Serron Noel is a 6’5, 211 lbs. right handed right wing from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He was born on August 8, 2000 thus making him 17 years old for the draft. As you can see from his EliteProspects page, he played his bantam hockey with the Ottawa Senators Bantam program from 2012-15 and midget hockey with the Brockville Braves for the 2015-16 season after being the top overall pick in the 2015 CCHL Bantam Protected Draft. He was then taken in the 2nd round, 25th overall of the 2016 OHL Priority Selection Draft by the Oshawa Generals. He put up 8 goals, 13 assists, -3, and 52 PIM in 63 games in his rookie OHL season in 2016-17. This past season he had 28 goals, 25 assists, -8, and 61 PIM in 62 games. His 28 goals ranked 2nd on the team while his 53 points put him 5th on the team in scoring.
Noel also has international experience for Canada starting in 2016 when he had a goal and 3 assists in 5 games for Canada Red U17 at the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. He helped Canada to a Gold Medal at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament a goal in 5 games. This past April he put up 2 goals and 4 assists in 5 games for Canada’s U18 team at the 2018 IIHF World U18 Championships which put him in a three-way tie for the top spot in scoring on Canada.
If you want a more analytical perspective then I recommend checking out Scouching which provides numbers along with Will’s opinion based off his viewings of the prospects. He put together the Scouching’s 2018 Public Prospect Tracker which includes a lot of non-traditional statistics. Among first time OHL draft eligibiles, Noel stands out with strong even strength point production per hour (both primary and total) as well as a strong Individual Point Percentage. I had the chance to watch Noel play for Oshawa a few times this season so it was no surprise to see him rank well in high danger shots per hour. On the flip side, his relative stats to his teammates could use some improvement. Before jumping into a breakdown of his game, let’s take a look at where Noel is currently ranked.
Where is Serron Noel Ranked?
For the most part, the various scouting services with publicly available rankings see Noel as a mid to late 1st round pick. NHL Central Scouting has Noel ranked 10th among the North American skaters. Noel took the 14th spot in ISS Hockey’s May ranking, 16th spot in Craig Button’s March edition of Craig’s List, 27th ranking in Cam Robinson’s April ranking over at Dobber Prospects, 28th spot in Hockey Prospect’s March ranking, and 29th spot in the final ranking by Future Considerations. Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst recently posted his Top 62 over on the Sporting News and ranked Noel 41st.
What Others Say About Serron Noel
When it comes to prospects from the OHL, no one follows the league closer than Brock Otten of OHL Prospects. Back in late February he conducted this Midseason Media/Scout Poll for 2018 where Noel finished 6th among prospects from the OHL. Here is some of what Otten had to say about Noel:
”I’m a big fan and I’ll tell you why. Watch the Generals play and count the number of prime time scoring chances this guy creates, or is on the receiving end of...But the coordination, focus, and finishing ability just aren’t quite polished yet as he learns to utilize his size advantage. As he gets stronger, will we see those components to his game improve?...But there’s also a chance that he develops into a top notch power forward who can take over games. The risk/reward is worth it IMO...”
I definitely agree with Otten’s assessment. Noel immediately stood out to me the first time I saw Oshawa play this past season, not only due to his size, but by the way he’s able to use his strength and skill to drive into the home-plate area of the ice offensively and create problems for the opposition. What really made me a fan of Noel’s was how consistent he was able to do this and across multiple viewings throughout the season.
Ben Kerr of Last Word on Hockey as this comprehensive scouting report of Noel. Here are a few excerpts of what Kerr said about the power forward:
Noel generates very good speed for a big man and has really improved his first few steps and acceleration...He has one of the hardest wrist shots in the entire draft, generating excellent power. His accuracy is good, and he features a quick release. His quick hands help him finish in tight, with tip-ins, scoring rebounds, or making quick moves to beat a goalie in tight...Noel uses his size effectively in the defensive zone. He anticipates plays well and gets his long stick into passing lanes.
It’s encouraging to read that Noel has improved his skating and is able to utilize it despite his large frame. Having one of the hardest wrist shots in the draft is certainly notable and it’s nice to read about how he is able to use his size at both ends of the rink.
Back in March, Mike G. Morreale of NHL.com posted this article about Noel’s development. The article talks about how Noel has trained extensively with a skating coach to improve what was considered the weakest area of his game. It also includes quotes from former NHL defenseman Jason York, who coached Noel for 6 years when he was younger, and from Noel himself. Also, check out this quote from Karl Stewart, an OHL scout for NHL Central Scouting, in which he compares Noel to Winnipeg Jets forward Blake Wheeler:
”I think of Wheeler when I see Noel just because of his size and feet and hands in tight, and when he puts it all together you can’t get the puck away from him,” Stewart said. “He’s a young kid and it’s scary to think about the player he’ll be when he’s fully developed. His skating is as close to NHL ready when he wants to skate. He can drive you wide and get around you, and he’s got quick acceleration to separate himself from anyone.”
Getting compared to a player like Wheeler is certainly high praise and makes Noel an intriguing prospect.
Finally, to get another perspective let’s go back to Scouching which had Noel ranked 23rd on their ranking. Here is some of what they had to say about Noel:
He can skate and he has a creative streak to him. He is huge, and gets to dangerous areas better than anyone except Andrei Svechnikov. He was great in the U18 and should significantly improve his OHL metrics next year. He’s a true power forward for the modern era, and I think there’s an underrated NHLer there.
Even though it’s only one area of the game, being in the same sentence as Andrei Svechnikov in a positive light is very encouraging. Noel really does seem to have the skillset to progress towards a fruitful NHL career.
A Little Video
The first video of Noel comes from YouTube user SEER VIDEO who always has some great prospect coverage. You’ll probably want to star that video 2 minutes in to get to the game highlights. The second video is a shift-by-shift video from Oshawa’s March 7 game against Kingston courtsey of YouTube user Burgundy Rainbow.
Starting at 2:27 of the first video, you can see his goals from hat trick against Sault Ste. Marie on 9/23/17. Prior to the first goal he makes a smart play while coming back in the neutral zone to realize his team has regained possession of the puck. He quickly turns back up ice to get himself behind the closest defender and create an odd man situation. I really liked the way he was patient once he received the puck and waited to pick his spot in-tight against the goaltender for the goal. The second goal came on a 5v3 PP but showed how he is useful when he’s park down low and can jam pucks home before the goaltender or defenders can react. The third goal is at 4v4 play but shows he quick he is to win a puck off of a defensive zone faceoff, chip it past the opposition while making a clean zone exit, and stay calm under pressure to beat the goaltender down low. For a big player he really is able to use his stride to create enough distance at this level. At the 4:00 mark you see him do a good job to make a clean zone entry and use a give and go to score a goal.
In the shift-by-shift video you can see his goal during the shift beginning at the 3:28 mark. He really does a great job of releasing the puck quickly before the goaltender can react. You can see his assist in the shift starting with an Oshawa zone entry at the 11:03 mark. Around the 11:40 mark you see Noel make a good defensive play by coming back to steal the puck and make a quick, clean zone exit with a pass which leads to a shot attempt for Oshawa.
An Opinion of Sorts
As I mentioned earlier in this post I quickly became a fan of Noel’s watching him play for Oshawa last season. Not only is he a big body that competes hard, but he has the offensive instincts and excellent wrist shot to change games as a goal scorer. Whether it’s creating chances for his teammates by opening up ice or causing havoc in front of the net, or by simply taking defenders on and muscling his way to into open ice or driving the net, Noel is often able to make his presence felt on the scoresheet. Overall, there is a lot that I find intriguing about Noel. He’s still young for this class as he doesn’t turn 18 until August. He’s already 6’5, 211 lbs. and should fill out that frame even more as he gains muscle over the next few seasons. He’s reliable defensively at even strength and on the PK. He can score goals from open ice with a hard, accurate wrist shot or in tight on loose pucks or deflections. My main concern with Noel is his skating - which is something he’s already been taking extra time to work on and has shown improvements from his rookie season in the OHL.
Overall, while some may view Noel at 17th overall as a reach, I think it would be a fine selection for the Devils. While there are other players I’m also interested in, Noel is certainly on my shortlist of players that I would be completely happy with seeing in a Devils sweater on draft night. I think his skillset and size should help him advance to the NHL level at some point. The best case scenario is you get a power forward that will own the right side of the ice and front of the net, scoring goals, and contributing defensively. Even if his offensive game is unable to translate to the NHL level, I think you’d be left with a player that could contribute in a bottom 6 role and on the PK. No prospect is a sure thing and most will miss, but I think Noel has a better chance than most of turning into a NHL player.
What are your thoughts on Noel as a prospect? Would you be in favor of seeing the Devils select him with their 1st round pick? Are there any parts of his game that stand out to you in a positive or negative way? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!