Over the weeks leading up to the 2018 NHL draft, we're providing prospect profiles and how they would fit with the Flyers, who have two first-round picks — Nos. 14 and 19.
The NHL draft takes place June 22-23 at American Airlines Center in Dallas. The Flyers have nine picks with two in the first, fifth and seventh rounds and one in the second, fourth and sixth. They do not own a third-rounder as it went to the Detroit Red Wings for Petr Mrazek. The 14th pick conveyed from the Brayden Schenn trade. The final details were Schenn to the St. Louis Blues for Jori Lehtera, a 2017 first-round pick (Morgan Frost) and the 14th pick.
Our prospect profiles will touch mostly on prospects projected to go in the 10-20 range but some may require the Flyers having to trade up to select. We’ll identify those prospects.
Position: Right winger
Team: Oshawa Generals (OHL)
A very raw talent.
Right now, that’s the best way to sum up Noel, who scored 28 goals and 53 points in 62 games as a young 17-year-old with the Generals in the OHL. Some of that youth and unrefined talent is the product of having a late birthday (Aug. 8, 2000), so Noel won’t even be 18 when he’s selected later this month.
The son of former CHL football player Dean Noel, Noel has the frame to be a classic NHL power forward with a very strong, straightforward north-south game. His size is reminiscent of Jamie Benn, who needed to work on his skating before he developed into a superstar with the Dallas Stars. Noel looks effortless with such a long stride skating against much smaller competition but there’s a clumsiness as well, as he’s not very good on his edges and not as strong on his skates as you’d like in a prospect of Noel’s size.
Right now, he doesn’t have the ability to overpower an NHL defenseman, even one who may be four inches shorter and 20 pounds lighter, but he’s a force at the junior level.
From scouring the internet looking at video clips, it’s also hard to gauge how strong Noel’s shot is considering he does almost all of his scoring right around the net. He has quick hands for a player of his size. He maneuvers well down in the trenches, but does he possess a deadly snapshot that can beat an NHL goaltender? That’s hard to say because at the junior level, he hasn’t appeared to need one.
Overall, Noel is a project but an exciting one that has the physical makeup to become a special player.
Fit with Flyers
If the Flyers hang on to their two first-round selections, then Noel’s name may surface when the team selects at No. 19. If the team snags a more NHL-ready player at 14, Ron Hextall can elect to be patient with Noel, who needs another two years at the junior level to work on becoming a more complete player. So I’d say Noel is at least three years away from breaking into the NHL and possibly longer.
Interestingly, the Flyers passed up on some big, physical and arguably more skilled wingers (Kieffer Bellows, Julien Gauthier, Max Jones and Riley Tufte) in the 2016 NHL draft before settling on German Rubtsov with the 22nd overall pick. Knowing a little bit of Hextall’s draft history, this just doesn’t seem like his type of pick, but right now with two first-rounders, it could change his philosophy a little.
If the Flyers are looking to replace Wayne Simmonds over the next four-to-five years, Noel could very well be their guy.