It seems like just yesterday that Noah Hanifin was being taken fifth overall in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft. In fact, it was less than two years ago which kind of makes it yesterday in this situation I guess. Anyway here we are in March of 2017 and the 20-year-old defenseman has already played 152 games in the NHL with the Carolina Hurricanes.
He was able to make the jump to the NHL after just one season with Boston College – which is extremely impressive for a defenseman – and has become one of the building blocks of the young and revamped Hurricanes core group. His game needs some more polishing, and his frame will eventually fill out, but he’s been able to hang in a league who’s schedule can sometimes wear down young blueliners.
Following Carolina’s most recent trip to New Jersey, The Hockey Writers chatted with Hanifin on a variety of topics including the Canes’ core group to some familiar faces on the opposing team that night.
— FOX Sports Carolinas (@CanesOnFSCR) March 26, 2017
The Hockey Writers: This team of yours has been on a nice little run here (6-0-2) making a push for the playoffs, what’s been going right?
Noah Hanifin: It’s been really good lately, we’ve had a really good road trip here; we knew it would be tough coming in. Winding down to the end of the season, a lot of teams are fighting (for the playoff spots) and we had a pretty good run this whole trip. I’m really happy with what we did – we came out with nine points in ten games which are huge for us. These last nine games for us are going to be a lot of fun; we’re just going to try to keep it going and hopefully we can make the playoffs.
THW: What is that like when a lot of people tell you that you’re out but the guys in this room believe? Until you’re officially out, you’re still alive correct?
NH: Definitely. It’s been like this all year, the league has been so tight and we’ve been in a tough spot for most of it. We strung a few good games together and now we’re back in it. We just have to keep doing what we’re doing and taking it game by game, and we can’t look too far ahead. I think if we do that we should be ready for every game.
— Hannah Smith (@hlsmith_2) January 19, 2017
THW: You’re still a young player but you just passed 150 games in this league, does it seem like that many?
NH: It’s crazy. It feels like just yesterday that I showed up for my first day of training camp last year; it went by pretty quick. There’s been a lot of learning going on these past two years for me and I’m really happy with the way things are going. I love all of my teammates and the coaching staff has been great, it’s awesome to be a part of this organization.
THW: There are a few older players here on the Canes, but the core group is younger and they’re all in your age group. Has that made the transition easier for you into the NHL?
NH: Absolutely, it’s huge. A lot of our guys have bonded really well over the last year and that’s really good for team chemistry, moving forward to the years ahead. We have a really tight group here, I think little things like that are going to help push us going forward.
— Lauren Smith (@ThatVermontGirl) May 22, 2016
THW: Do you have any comment on what is going on between USA Hockey and the US Women’s National Team players?
NH: Honestly I haven’t really seen too much about what’s going on, I heard there’s some controversy going on but I haven’t been too aware of it. That’s a tough situation (for them); I went to BC so I know some of the girls that have played there, and play on the national team. It’s tough, you don’t want to see something like that happen. Hopefully, before the World Championships start, they have time to figure this out and they can play.
THW: What do you know about New Jersey Devils defenseman Steven Santini?
NH: He’s a great guy, was my D-partner for a little bit when I was at BC; a really good guy. He’s a good teammate, works extremely hard and he’s definitely somebody who wants to learn every day. He’s going to be a great player in this league for a long time. It was awesome to be able to have the privilege to play with him for a year and we still keep in touch every now and then.
— BC Hockey (@BCHockey) December 2, 2014
THW: He’s a very mature and serious guy, was he that way in college?
NH: Yeah, well I wouldn’t say he’s a serious guy, but he’s a very committed guy who knows what he wants. He pursues his goal every day — I think that’s awesome to have and he’s someone that I looked up to when I was at BC. I was a freshman, he was a junior and he definitely helped me out a lot.
THW: There is another Devils’ player you’re familiar with also right? Miles Wood?
NH: Yup. He’s extremely fast, a strong guy, a good player who works really hard. I played against him in high school a little bit – he was at Nobles and I was at St. Sebastian’s; he was my roommate at the World Championships last year, so I got to spend a lot of time with him there. A great guy who’s obviously doing well this year and taking some big steps. Which is good to see.
Dan Rice is in his 9th year of reporting for THW & has covered NJ Devils home games for 15+ years at various websites. He began his journey working for legendary broadcaster/writer Stan Fischler from 2002-04 & completed an internship at the ECHL; he also has been writing features for the NWHL (nwhl.zone) website since 2016.