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Oh boy, here we go. A 6'4" defenseman who can't skate and only had 5 goals and 20 points? Classic Hockey Man draft pick by Treliving!
Oh boy, here we go again. A lecture about how points from defensemen don't matter and you gotta watch the games to see the true strength that comes from within like a Hobbit carrying the One Ring across the world into Mordor. Nerd.
Noah Chadwick is a real interesting player to consider, in general and for this Top 25 Under 25 list. He hits on a few of those classic talking points that will undoubtedly get picked at for years until his development is done and it's clear how successful (or not) he'll become. He's still pretty unknown to the larger world of prospects and Toronto Maple Leafs fans, so that debate will be a bit muted for now. But I would not at all be surprised if he becomes one of the lightning rod players in this series in subsequent years.
|Age as of July 1||18.14|
This is his debut on our annual T25U25 rankings, as the second youngest player eligible on the list – Easton Cowan had him beat by 10 days.
For me, the funniest part is how he flips a lot of those talking points on their heads from what we're used to. Because no, Chadwick is not a classic Tall Adult Son like the big, hulking defensemen drafted during the Hunter years. He is tall, and his skating should be improved, but he's really a small, skilled defenseman trapped in a big stay at home defenseman's body.
When Chadwick was drafted to the WHL, he was 6'0" and 150 lbs. Before that, he was reportedly even shorter. He has talked in interviews about how he was pretty late to start his big growth spurt... and then he just didn't stop growing, since he was 6'2" at the start of this past season and ended at 6'4". But at 187 lbs, he's still a baby giraffe on the lankiness scale.
In those same interviews, he's talked about how being smaller led him to playing a more skilled, offensively focused game that is common for smaller players – especially defensemen. When he was drafted in the WHL, he had the second highest point per game rate by defensemen in his league. The next full season (thanks, Covid), he led the league in points by defensemen. In short, he has the skills, profile and pedigree of an offensively skilled defenseman who can put up points.
So it's a bit weird that in his first full WHL season, he was 66th among defensemen in points – 13th if you count only his age group. Even by point rate or putting him into tiers of production, he was welllllllll behind the top producing defensemen for his age group.
Here's where the "points by defensemen don't impress me much" conversation comes in. Not only do I generally not care about it, but in Chadwick's specific case there are some indications that he was offensively more effective than his points would hint at. First, he didn't get much powerplay time – which is especially where defensemen who produce points will use to buff up their numbers.
Second, he played on a pretty low scoring team, and his offensive strengths relies on moving the puck to the forwards to do the scoring. That's something that I like in a defenseman rather than having a guy who needs the offense to go through him, but that is something that relies on having a team around him who can finish. And Lethbridge did not have a single point per game player. Their top goal scorer had only 22 goals, which was better than only one other team. They finished with the third lowest goals scored as a team. Suffice to say, not a high offense team.
Here's a quote from EP Rinkside, in an article looking at low scoring draft eligibles from the WHL who seemed like breakout candidates in the future because they had the right process and right skills.
Even though Chadwick scored just 20 points, his point play shows more nuance and skill than many who outscored him. He moves through pass receptions, fakes plays, uses space, looks for teammates around the slot, and even if a point shot’s the best play, he usually aims for sticks instead corners. He shows a similar desire to create in transition, forgoing dump-outs for passes, deceiving opponents if necessary.
At some point, it's hard to get around the fact that his skating is a big issue. When watching him at the rookie camp, I remarked that I found he seemed to always make the right decisions, his problem was more not being able to get where he needed to be quickly enough. His size and reach helps compensate for that, as does his quick decision making, but that will only take him so far. I was very impressed with his puck skills when handling and passing it, so I can definitely see him having an offensive breakout this year – especially if he gets some real powerplay time. That will be tough for him, since his team is returning with all of their defensemen from last season, but he may do enough in his development to take one of those spots.
I ranked Chadwick 15th, ahead of Malinoski actually even though he was taken with a later pick. I am pretty high on him, and had him at the top of a tier I started after the lot of Ty Voit, Nick Abruzzese, Roni Hirvonen, and others who were taken with higher picks and are now on the Marlies but have some uncertainty about their future.
Most were not of the same mind. Hardev, mad lad that he is, ranked him 9th ahead of even me. But the next closest was The Bag at 18th, and the rest had him in the 20's. Adam, mad lad of a different variety that he is, didn't rank him at all. Associated trauma with the Large Adult Sons era from the London Knight tainted Mark Hunter, I assume.
Here's what the other voters had to say:
Cathy: I did not rank Chadwick because to me he is tall, and nothing else. He seems to be attracting some attention with points, which means he’s a defenceman who plays some minutes with good forwards, but once he’s not massively out-reaching his competition, is there a defender in there? I’ll take Lisowsky’s WHL points much more seriously than Chadwick’s, and for me, there was just no reason to elevate him into the group at the bottom of the list.
dhammm: I look at Noah Chadwick as the defenseman alternative to playing the zippy little winger game with late round picks. If you’re tired of picking little forwards who scored 9 NHLe in their draft years, you can opt to take instead a defenseman who scored 3-4 NHLe in his draft year. That’s Noah Chadwick to me. If you looked up a solid draft-year defenseman in some noumenal dictionary of forms, you’d get him. Good size, room to grow, DY NHLe between 3-4 (3.45)—a cromulent use of a later pick, and a welcome addition to a prospect pipeline looking for any amount of potential to dream on. Chadwick is also a fun name to just say.
Catch-67: When Chadwick was picked, my first thought was that he’s Andrew Nielsen the second. Brigstew’s scouting reports on him have turned me around on him somewhat, and I’m really hoping the Leafs can bring out all the potential Brigstew speaks of in his scouting reports.
Zone Entry: Chadwick snuck onto my list partly due to the dearth of promising defence prospects in general, thus boosting his Collectibility score. Be interesting to see where/if he slots in next year…
The Bag: Noah Chadwick turned 18 this spring, so he’s got that going for him, but not for long.
That's what we all think, and now it's your turn! What do you think about the newest Large Adult Son? Are you worried about his poor skating and low point totals? Or do you see some potential given his youth, late growth spurt, and history of being a top producing defensemen for his age and level? Let us know!
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