For the second consecutive mock draft I participated in this week, defenseman Noah Hanifin was waiting at the 5th position and for the second straight time, I snatched him up.
In this year's SB Nation Mock Draft, the top offensive talents in the draft were already taken by the powers that be in positions one through four. Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Dylan Strome and Mitch Marner were picked in that exact order.
Check out the selections as they are posted at SB Nation NHL Mock Draft 2015.
Why did I pick Hanifin?
The college defenseman has been described as a potential franchise defenseman. He has NHL size and is likely to keep growing. He can skate like the wind and has instincts that cannot be taught. He is rated by most scouts as the best overall player in this spot.
Let's take a look at some specifics.
"My NHL Draft" is a site that really looks at the draft in depth. On one page, they compare what many of the major sites say about each prospect, assign points based upon where they place in the respective rankings, and give them a consensus ranking based upon the total of those points. Hanifin ranked fifth with 182 points, just behind Marner who had 185.
Ivan Provorov was sixth with 167 points.
Check out this link for even more specific information about where the top players ranked in 11 of the top ranking services. (Top Rankings) Hanifin placed at third highest by five different scouts and was the top-rated blueliner by everyone but TSN's Craig Button.
Just last week we ran an article here at Canes Country comparing what was being said about Hanifin and Provorov and some of the quotes about both players were very impressive.
Steve Kournianos - The Draft Analysis - (3rd)
Regardless of how McDavid’s or Eichel’s respective careers turn out, history should be very kind to Hanifin, who some consider the best draft eligible American-trained defenseman in decades.
Dan Marr - Director of Central Scouting - (3rd)
Everybody looks at him and says he’s a gifted offensive player, and he is, but what makes him so special is his transition game. He ‘gets it’ – that you have to play defense first and the offense will follow".
Bob McKenzie - Fans will soon know the name Hanifin
"There's not a huge gap between McDavid or Eichel and Hanifin but there is, to start the season anyway, a gap between those top three and everyone else," said one head scout of an NHL team. "(Hanifin) is at a disadvantage simply because he's a defenceman and the other two guys are centres. But (Hanifin) could be Scott Niedermayer. He skates like him."
Connor Mellas - Hanifin finishes freshman year at BC
By all accounts, Hanifin, NHL Central Scouting's projected third overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, is not a robot, but his brain processes hockey with a machine-like efficiency. His positioning is superb, his instincts are deadly, and his offensive and defensive decision-making continues to improve and impress.
After a slow start to his first season in college, he finished up like gangbusters by scoring 15 points in his last 18 games. This, on a scoring challenged Boston College team.
Will the defenseman fall to number five in the real draft? Would the Hurricanes take him if he did? Stay tuned!
One thing seems certain. If the Hurricanes do take Noah Hanifin at number five in the upcoming draft in Florida, with Faulk, Fleury, Pesce, Hanifin and others in the fold, their blueline would be set for years to come.