A name to watch out for ahead of this year’s NHL Draft in Chicago is Noel Hoefenmayer of the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s. The North York, Ontario-native blueliner is filling the void left by the departure of defencemen Jacob Middleton, Nevin Guy and Evan de Haan. This being his NHL Draft year, Hoefenmayer has caught the attention of scouts thanks to his career season and competitiveness.
Last year in his rookie season with the 67’s, Hoefenmayer had only five points in 45 regular season games. This year, he has 21 points in 34 games and is jumping into the play a lot more with his increased confidence and ice time. These numbers are impressive for a defenceman, who is just in his second year of Junior hockey.
— Ottawa 67’s (@Ottawa67sHockey) November 2, 2016
Since being drafted 36th overall by the 67’s in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection, he has put 12 pounds onto his 6’0” frame, an indication that he wants to take the next step in his hockey career:
“I had a big summer this year, and it’s just confidence. My whole life I have played with a lot of confidence and it has really helped me all around the ice defensively and offensively and obviously that has shown this year.” Hoefenmayer told The Hockey Writers.
Speaking about his offseason, Hoefenmayer said: “I hit the gym this past summer. Just everything on the ice, off the ice, the lifestyle of trying to get better, it has worked out for me.”
67’s head coach and general manager Jeff Brown, who is an NHL alumnus himself, has also noticed his club’s top blue liner:
“We have been working with Hoefenmayer as there are parts of his game that are lacking. We are trying to make him a complete player, at times he has been really good for us.” Brown told reporters.
The 2017 NHL Draft
Hoefenmayer picked a great time to have a breakout season. With the NHL Draft coming to Chicago in June, Hoefenmayer’s draft value is on the rise. Moving from a “C” level prospect to a “B” level prospect in the latest NHL Central Scouting rankings, he is projected to be drafted between rounds two and three – something many hockey experts didn’t expect heading into this OHL season.
The increased attention from media and scouts ahead of the 2017 NHL Draft can bring added stress to a player but Hoefenmayer is handling it like a professional:
“The pressure is always there. You just have to not to look at it and just play your game, play simple, keep going.”
Noel Hoefenmayer has really blossomed this year with the 67’s. Playing massive minutes now and working himself into the top 60 conversation.
— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) January 7, 2017
He has the added benefit of being able to lean on a teammate who went through the NHL Draft last season. Travis Barron, the 67’s captain, was drafted in round seven by the Colorado Avalanche.
“He (Barron) has helped me out a lot, and if I ever have any questions he always helps me out. It’s really good having a guy that’s been through it and can help me out,” Hoefenmayer explained to The Hockey Writers.
With the 67’s pushing for positioning and a run in the OHL playoffs, they will need Hoefenmayer to continue to generate offence from the blue line. Based on what we have seen so far this season, there is plenty of reason to believe he has a great hockey career ahead of him.