When you think of New York Rangers defenseman prospects, the top 3 names that are mentioned are Brady Skjei, Dylan McIIrath and Calle Andersson, however; In the 2011 NHL Draft, the New York Rangers selected a Defenseman in the 5th round that didn’t received much acclamation at the time, but has slowly risen his stock to the point where he is now mentioned among the top 3 mentioned above. I am referring to Samuel Noreau, a stand at home punishing Blue-liner who arguably could be the toughest prospect (including McIIrath) in the Rangers system. Noreau is a hugh defenseman ( 6’5/215lbs on draft day) and one of the nastiest defenseman coming out of the Rangers system. Noreau will not dazzle you with his speed, skating ability, or pin-point passing. What Noreau will do is punish any opponent who wonders into his area with extreme force. The Rangers Organization are taking the same approach with Noreau as they are doing with many of their prospects and that is not to rush him too quickly. Noreau body frame could easily carry an additional 15-20 pounds without it affecting his game. Despite his lack of skating speed, Noreau is not a bad skater, but does need to work on his lateral movement and pivots/turns.
Here are a few scouting reports on Samuel Noreau:
Bruins 2011 Draft Watch: “Noreau is a 6-5, 215-pound tough-as-nails punisher who doesn’t have much in the way of high-end skill, but has the size and nastiness to be a shutdown guy in time. He’s not a bad skater, though needs to work on his skating abilities to get to the next level like many big players on D. This dude can really fight, too. With his size and strength, he ragdolls guys and stands in and throws them against the tougher comers/enforcers in the Q.
He gets very little notice on a poor team, but stay-at-home guys with legitimate toughness are always in demand on NHL teams’ bottom pairing, and Noreau is someone who, with the right amount of patience and developmental time in the minors, could evolve into a functional 5th/6th
defenseman in time.”
Hockey’s Future: The New York Rangers were another team that may have gotten good value for a later round selection as the second of their two fifth round selections, Samuel Noreau, turned in a solid performance for the runner-up squad at this tournament (the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Rangers in the championship game, 5-2). The 6-5 Noreau isn’t afraid to use his big frame while defending in his own end, but he showed that he is more than just a big bodied, stay-at-home-defenseman.” Noreau is a huge, hard-nosed, stay-at-home blueliner who likes to take the body, as well as drop the gloves and intimidate to protect his teammates. Questions exist, however, as to his skating, positioning and hockey sense.”
The Prospect Park: “Noreau is another defenseman in the Dylan McIlrath mold. A shutdown guy who is tough and fights. “The Mighty Thor AKA Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) had an assist to set a new career high in assists as his Baie-Comeau Drakkar continued to roll winning via the shoot out 5-4 over the Chicoutimi Sangueens.
If we were to name a prospect that is most improved then right now Noreau deserves serious consideration. While 0-6-6 +7 is not going to change the world; when you factor in that Noreau has gone from goon to starting defenseman then it is a very good start.
Strengths:Noreau is a stay at home, in your face hard nose defenseman. He enjoys playing very physical and will not hesitate to drop the gloves when needed. Weaknesses: Skating mobility and lack of speed is the most glaring weakness in Noreau’s game. However; he has time to work on his skating (like Brian Boyle did a few years back) to be able to compete at the next levels.
Future Analysis: Noreau will need at least 3-5 years of development before he can seriously compete for a roster spot with the Rangers. Although he’s not an elite prospect, Noreau has the make-up to win a spot (as a 5th/6th defensemen) on the Rangers roster. When that time comes, the thought of a Noreau/McIIrath confrontation will be the ultimate battle of the titans.
At ESPN Insider, Grant Sonier ranks the Rangers farm system 13th in the NHL and writes that with Christian Thomas, JT Miller and Dylan McIlrath the Rangers have a lot of high end talent for the future.
He lists the Rangers Samuel Noreau as their sleeper prospect and says “Noreau has skill to go along with elite size and big-time toughness. These guys find a way over time to make a roster.”
The Connecticut Whale has announced the signing of defenseman Samuel Noreau to an Amateur Tryout (ATO) agreement.
Noreau, 19, was selected during the fifth-round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound, blueliner scored five goals and 17 points, along with 92 penalty-minutes in 58 games with Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the QMJHL this season.
Noureau is another defenseman in the Dylan McIlrath mold. A shutdown guy who is tough and fights. McColgan has some interesting skill and a nice story being from California. The Rangers have had some nice success with mid-round guys, he could be another.
Updates: 3:24PM: Adam:
Update: 5:55PM: Video interview with Noureau, where he says he wants to play like Chris Pronger, is below.