Noah Juulsen’s NHL dreams are nearly a reality.
After attending the NHL draft skills assessment and meeting with 26 teams earlier this month, Noah Juulsen returned to Abbotsford for his high school graduation at Yale to retain a bit of normalcy before potentially stepping into the limelight of professional hockey following the draft, which runs June 26 and 27 in Sunrise, Fla., the home of the Florida Panthers.
NHL’s director of central scouting Dan Marr stated in the lead-up to the draft that Juulsen is a legitimate first-round contender.
Juulsen said, “I didn’t really see myself in the position I am now. I thought I’d go somewhere in the fourth or fifth round.”
He was ranked 38th among North American skaters in the NHL Central Scouting midterm rankings. He moved up 16 spots to 22 by the time the final rankings rolled in, due to his improving play and offensive output throughout the season.
After registering just 10 points in his rookie season last year, the Yale Hockey Academy product put up 52 points, including nine goals in 68 games this season to help his club top the Western Conference’s U.S. Division.
“It was a really good season this year. We had a really good group of guys,” Juulsen said
Silvertips head coach Kevin Constantine described Juulsen as a strong, two-way defender, capable of playing a tough, physical game with the ability to move up in the play to get in on the offensive rush.
“There are a lot of good things about him. How much he enjoys the nature of hockey. That he’s a very dedicated kid who wants to learn, plays physical … [and] has a heavy shot,” Constantine told The News.
“These things all combined and you get a draftable defenceman who can work the power play.”
Juulsen showed a knack for exceeding expectations, even before his climb up the central scouting rankings. At the age of 16, he secured a spot on the Silvertips’ roster and slotted into a top-four defensive pairing as a rookie, something his coach said is “rare in the WHL.”
The Abbotsford product says he idolizes Vancouver defenceman Kevin Bieksa.
International Scouting Services placed Juulsen within their top-30, while TSN director of scouting Craig Button ranked Juulsen at No. 41 on his list of NHL prospects entering this year’s draft. Both lists are not limited to North American skaters.