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Get to know Nathan Noel
Date of Birth: 6/21/1997
Place of Birth: St. John’s, NL, CAN
Ht: 5’11″ Wt: 172 lbs
Team: Saint John Sea Dogs
Some players just have a tendency to grab your attention whenever they are on the ice. Nathan Noel is one of those players. He exemplifies the cliche — it’s not the size of the sea dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the sea dog, and finds a way to make his presence felt, despite his below average size.
Noel has found success in the QMJHL playing for Saint John, not to be confused with St. John’s, Newfoundland where Nathan was born.
Last season, Noel racked up 24 goals and 62 points in 66 games for the Sea Dogs, and also earned a selection to the U-18 team for Canada at the Word Junior Championship, where he contributed two assists in seven games.
A final rating of 54th among North American skaters by Central Scouting makes Noel a guy who could be drafted anywhere in the 2nd-4th round, especially considering vastly different report cards you will get, depending on which part of his game you analyze.
What Scouts See
A hard-working offensive forward that seems to compliment his linemates, whoever they may be. Good hockey sense and creativity in the offensive end. Very good puck possession skills; good hands to stay slippery, and a non-stopping motor that bodes nicely with his skating agility.
Keen awareness on the ice lets him slip into good scoring positions where he can either pass the puck or tap home a goal. All-in-all, a guy who has a high level of skill and can be relied upon in situations where you need to strike quickly or run down the clock with a lead.
A slick offensive forward… has very impressive speed with great footwork and overall quickness… powerful first few steps… able to accelerate with the puck and beat defensemen while flying down the wing… very creative with the puck, making jaw-dropping moves… illustrates great vision and awareness with the puck, and the ability to create scoring chances for others, but he often makes that extra, unnecessary move with the puck and loses his passing options… has bouts of inconsistency in his compete level… shows strong awareness for his defensive assignments as a center; effort and physical play could be much better… has some high offensive upside.
What BSN Avalanche Sees
Noel is a player who seems to make the most with what he’s got. He is obviously skilled enough to set himself apart from most of his peers, but his tenacious playing style and high-octane motor while on the ice are what make him an exciting player to watch.
A player rated 54th by Central Scouting and 59th on Craig’s List is going to have some holes in his game, so let’s get those out of the way early.
In the defensive zone, Noel doesn’t bring much at this point in his development, rendering him a one-dimensional player in need of significant coaching and development time. At times he appears lazy on the back-check, doesn’t have a consistent neutral zone presence defensively, and has positioning errors in his own zone.
His small stature also is of concern, and bigger players are able to physically dominate Noel. Since he is a key figure on his Saint John Sea Dogs squad, the opposition often takes some physical liberties on Noel, who spends too much time on his butt for my liking. He’ll need to add some mass to his frame to survive the even more rigorous NHL landscape.
If Noel can eventually iron out these wrinkles in his game, his positive attributes are tantalizing. His skating is a plus, relying on quick feet and short strides to dash and dart around the ice. He also has the innate ability to make things happen when he is on the ice, and the closer he is to the opposing net, the harder he goes.
What he lacks in the defensive zone, he makes up for on the offensive end. He wants the puck on his stick in big moments, and in my opinion, has the intangible “it factor” you look for in athletes. Plus he utilizes the famous jersey tuck in the back of his pants, which adds a bonus point in my book.
An offensive skill-set that keeps pace with many prospects expected to go in the first round, his relentless attitude in the offensive zone, combined with his defensive deficiencies and small size make Noel an intriguing prospect.
His likely career path is to end up as a top scoring forward in the AHL with the ability to flex when injuries or depth issues strike, but if he can maximize his offensive talents and makes some huge strides in his own zone, he could turn into an impact player for an NHL squad.
Expected Draft Position
As I mentioned above, the earliest you’ll see Noel go is in the 2nd round. His status as a one-dimensional offensive prospect needing time to round out his game, coupled with his lack of size will be the catalyst for his fall, if it should happen. If Noel survives to the 4th round or later, I’ll mark him down as one of the steals of the draft, although the fruits of that selection likely won’t ripen for 3-4 years.
How Would Noel Fit in the Avalanche Organization?
Noel isn’t a natural fit for the Avalanche organization at this point, with plenty of undersized centers and forwards already on the roster or fighting for an NHL look.
The Avalanche have made it known that they intend to target bigger players in this year’s NHL draft.
That being said, you still love a guy with a high compete level and offensive upside in your system, especially if he falls into your lap later in the draft. I’d say Noel is probably a stretch as a 2nd or 3rd round pick from the Avalanche perspective considering their other needs, but if he is on the board when the Avalanche are on the clock in the 4th, they should grab him.
Look at what Tyler Johnson is doing in Tampa Bay right now. The undersized underdogs of the world can use Johnson as inspiration, and NHL front offices would be wise to take note of his impact in this year’s playoffs. I love how Nathan Noel plays the game, so I’ll be interested to see if he can put all the pieces together to make it at the next level.