Birthdate: March 4, 1992 (age 21)
Acquired via: 2011 NHL Draft - Round 4, Pick 118
Current Team/League: Adirondack Phantoms, AHL
Contract: $749,167 per year through 2015 (two-way, entry-level contract)
The middle of the NHL draft hasn't really treated the Flyers well for the last decade or so. Sure, the success rates in the draft once you get past the second round or so are notoriously low, but since 2001, of the 32 guys taken between the third and fifth round by the Flyers, only three of them -- Oskars Bartulis, Marc-Andre Bourdon, and Tye McGinn -- have played more than 20 games with the Flyers.
So every time a new one rolls in for the Flyers, you kind of wonder if maybe there's a chance that maybe he can become someone noteworthy. Because they have to get lucky at some point, right?
Which brings us to Marcel Noebels, only the second German player ever drafted by the Flyers (Dennis Seidenberg being the other). The Flyers snatched him up at the 118th pick in the draft, after he fell a bit later than expected in the 2011 draft -- he was the 49th-ranked North American skater in Central Scouting's final ranking.
Noebels has played in a lot of different places in his still quite-young-career. In the year before his draft year, he played with the German team's Krefeld Penguins, where he tore apart the U18 league (53 points in 25 games!) and also got a tiny bit of time at the league's professional level, with 33 games in Krefeld's top-level team. He then came across the Atlantic and played with the Seattle Thunderbirds in the Western Hockey League in his draft year, putting up a 28-goal season in 66 games.
After getting drafted, Noebels turned down the chance to go back to Germany and stayed in the WHL. He started out the 2011-12 season (the one after his draft) at a similar clip, but it wasn't until a mid-season trade to the Portland Thunderbirds where things really took off for the winger, who topped a point-per-game post-trade. He made the next jump from there to the USA minor leagues in 2012-13, where he tore up the ECHL at about a point-per-game clip before moving up to the Phantoms after the lockout ended and scoring at about a half-point per game pace (23 points in 43 games). Finally, he capped off the year by being named to Germany's 2013 IIHF World Championships team.
Great steps forward for a guy who was 20 for most of the year, right? Well, unfortunately, things haven't gone quite as well for Noebels this year. For whatever reason -- I don't know if he's been in Terry Murray's doghouse or what -- he's had multiple stretches this year where he's been a healthy scratch for the Phantoms. He's also dealt with injuries, including a concussion in December. When he has found his way into the lineup, he's mostly been skating with guys like Ben Holmstrom and Rob Bordson -- likely meaning that Murray and co. are using him as more of a defensive guy than a scorer. The end result of all of that is a mere two goals and five assists in 30 games.
Again, when it comes to mid-round guys like Noebels, you try to temper expectations because they aren't usually going to be much more than a bottom-six guy in the NHL themselves. But he's shown offensive capabilities in the past, so you are left to wonder what the circumstances are that's led to his down year this year -- worse play on his end, different roles, injuries, coaching, etc.
In terms of his style, all accounts seem to suggest that Noebels is a guy who uses his physicality to dictate his play, albeit beyond the level of a "plugger" or a fourth-line grinder type. He himself has said as much before, around the time he was drafted:
I have to say that Philadelphia is really a great fit for me because of my style of play and my size and I really like their concept of a more physical game.
He's a pretty big guy on the wing, and seems to be capable in both ends of the ice. The biggest knock on him tends to be that he's not a particularly good skater and that he has to make everything work around that. Hockey's Future said this about him before the year:
Noebels is a big-bodied winger who plays a conscientious, two-way game. He isn't overly creative offensively but is effective on the attack utilizing his heavy shot and then driving to the net - both tendencies that should fit in well with the Flyers' style of play.
And around the same time, Bill Meltzer likened him to Ruslan Fedotenko at a similar point in his career.
Noebels' step back this year is a little bit disconcerting, and it does look like he's got a ceiling of a third-line guy who can chip in at both ends of the ice. So maybe he's not the guy who breaks the middle-of-the-draft barrier the Flyers have been trying to get past for a decade-plus now. But he's produced at enough levels in enough places to lead me to believe that he's got a chance.
How we voted for Marcel Noebels:
Who we voted for at No. 20:
|Brandon Manning||Brandon Manning||Marcel Noebels||Petr Straka||Fredric Larsson||Petr Straka||Marc-Andre Bourdon||Valeri Vasiliev|