The son of a professional football player, Serron Noel is one of the more interesting prospects in the first round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. His game is very raw and there is a lot of work to be done, but he has the potential to be an impact power forward in the NHL. He is still very young - Noel doesn’t turn 18 until six weeks after the draft - but he has already completed two full seasons in the OHL and has shown a lot of growth year over year.
Noel is a very intriguing player that will likely cause a few battles in draft rooms. At 6’5 and nearly 210lbs, he is going to open the eyes of a lot scouts that still value size and grit over other things. They will see his game down low and in front of the net and envision James van Riemsdyk or even Blake Wheeler. There are aspects to Noel’s game that give him the possibility to become that good - it will just be a long development process. He has proven the ability to put the puck in the net, particularly in close to the crease.
On the flip side, Noel isn’t a player that tracks well. Teams that keep analytical data on him see a player that barely breaks even when weighing the positives against the negative. A lot of this probably has to do with the fact that Noel doesn’t shoot the puck enough. The shot generation metrics leave a lot to be desired because it looks like he isn’t creating offense for his line. Noel only really shoots the puck from high-danger areas, as a result, he’s got an abnormally high shooting percentage of a little under 27%. He has very good hands and can finish off plays down low better than just about any player in the OHL.
Noel isn’t going to drive your team’s offense. He is below average when it comes to zone entry attempts showing that he doesn’t necessarily like to be the one carrying the puck into the opponent's zone. To counter that, Noel is strong when it comes to starting the rush. He works hard on the back check and was one of the best Oshawa forwards when it came to controlled zone exits this season.
He has a lot of growing to do before he can be counted as a sure-fire NHLer, and he knows it. Noel sees his weaknesses and works hard to improve them. One of the biggest concerns with players his size is skating ability. Last summer, Noel started taking power-skating classes and he’s made a big improvement as a result. He has a long powerful stride that generates good speed, but he is still very weak on his skates. He gets knocked off stride easily. If that happens to a kid his size in junior, it’s going to be a big problem at the professional level. He looks awkward at times and clearly needs to work on his coordination - though that can be said about any 17-year old that stands 6’5”. A lot of that will change as he matures physically. There is a ton of room to add strength to his frame and as he becomes conformable with his body, we should see him become a lot more stable on the ice.
Noel is a smart player that knows his strengths and plays within them. He is a high risk, high reward prospect. For a team that values patience and development, he could be an outstanding pick in the bottom half of the first round this June.
He is a project, there’s no debating that. The fact that Noel is one of the youngest players in the draft class leaves a lot of room for development, both in terms of on-ice skills as well as physical maturity.
What the scouts are saying
“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. If he was able to finish off even half of those scoring chances, he’d be top 20 in scoring (easily). 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? I think it’s very likely. Maybe there is a slight risk that he’s another Colton Gillies type. 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, especially with him being ranked in the mid/late first round right now.” –Brock Otten/OHL Prospects
“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. 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.” - Karl Stewart, NHL Central Scouting
Where he might get drafted
Noel could get selected anywhere in the second half of the first round. It will entirely depend on how the draft order sorts out. He is likely to be selected by a good team that has the luxury of being patient. One interesting possibility is a team with two first round draft picks selecting Noel after having picked a more NHL-ready prospect earlier in the round. The Philadelphia Flyers fit into this category.