2014-15 Team: Boston College (Hockey East)
Hometown: Norwood, Mass.
Date of Birth: 1/25//97
Final Central Scouting Ranking: 3
The term 'franchise defenseman' was uttered by more than a few scouts and observers across the rinks this winter when describing Boston College freshman Noah Hanifin.
The Norwood, Mass. native who played prep hockey at St. Sebastian's before heading to the USNTDP has been a star in the making for several years.
From the first viewing of the season, the USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game, Hanifin's skating and play-making ability was unquestioned. His stride is extremely graceful. He has terrific lateral mobility and amazing agility as he skates up ice and skating backwards.
His skills with the puck in transition, both lead passes and carrying the biscuit, are dynamic. He is a game changer with the puck on his stick. He also does a terrific job getting shots on net from the point on the power play. He's smart too. He always shoots the puck with a purpose. Not always to score, sometimes he'll shoot a low shot on net for a rebound or hoping for a tip.
As a young blue liner in college hockey, his defensive play had some ups and downs, but overall, it got much better as the year went along. It was noticeably better towards the end of the first semester.
His five goals and 18 assists was good for third most among NCAA rookie defensemen. There has been talk in recent weeks that Hanifin might drop a few spots, but it would be a huge mistake in this observer's opinion.
Whatever team calls Hanifin's name is getting a mature, poised and supremely talented defenseman who has the potential to change a franchise for the better.
Jeff Cox covers college, junior, high school and prep hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.