Did the Edmonton Oilers find a diamond in the rough with Noel Hoefenmayer?

Zach Laing
10 months ago
It’s easy to overlook some of the names NHL teams sign to contracts.
A lot of times, some of those players are far from household names and more often than not, make no impact whatsoever.
For the Edmonton Oilers, this has happened multiple times in recent years as they continue to cycle through depth players to fill out the bottom end of their roster, and their AHL club, the Bakersfield Condors. But sometimes, these names deserve a little more attention.
One name that caught my eye is that of Noel Hoefenmayer — a 6’0, 192 lb. defenceman who has spent the last three years in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ organization. Now 24, he was originally drafted by the Arizona Coyotes in the fourth round of the 2017 draft, but never signed.
Hoefenmayer ended up returning for three more years of OHL action post-draft and developed into the best defenceman in the league in his final season. That 2019-20 campaign with the Ottawa 67’s saw him score 26 goals and 82 points — far and away the most points of any rearguard in the entire Canadian major junior ranks. He was named the CHL defenceman of the year, a first-team all-star in the OHL as well as the OHL’s most outstanding defenceman.
His production has continued into his time in the pro ranks, too. In 69 ECHL games he’s scored 15 goals and 50 points while in 91 AHL matches, he’s scored 13 goals and 47 points. This past year, however, he hit another level with 11 goals and 38 points in 65 games with the Marlies — a mark that helped earn him a spot on the AHL all-star team — but there’s more to this story.

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The numbers he has continuously posted at every rank are very impressive, and in and of itself show promise for his ability to provide offence — at the very least — for the Condors next season.
But this season wasn’t all just highs. I spoke with Bennett Jull, one of The Nation Network’s writers at The Leafs Nation, who made mention that Hoefenmayer found himself scratched in the post-season:
Noel Hoefenmayer had a very strong first half of the season. He has a big shot from the point, and it was on full display. He quarterbacked the Marlies powerplay to great effect, and as the points tallied up, he was chosen to be an AHL All-Star. Unfortunately, as the regular season carried on, the points started to dry up. His confidence looked shaken, and by the time playoffs started Hoefenmayer was scratched. He only featured in two of the Marlies seven playoff games, the final two.
Hoefenmayer is a decent skater. He can adequately get around the ice, and while it’s not a major strength, it isn’t a weakness either. He can be physical at times but at 6’0 <200 pounds he certainly isn’t a major physical presence. He possesses a solid first pass, and at the AHL level he can definitely run a powerplay well. Perhaps the biggest issue with Hoefenmayer isn’t a specific part of his game, but the fact that there aren’t enough elite qualities in his toolbox.
Going from AHL All-Star to a healthy scratch was the epitome of a season with highs and lows, and he will definitely be better suited in another organization. We’ve seen before that all it takes sometimes is a change of scenery, and I’m wishing him well in Oil Country.
A jack-of-all-trades, but seeming master of none, I think Hoefenmayer is absolutely a player to keep an eye on. The Oilers clearly see something in his game as they signed him to a one-year contract — his first contract with an NHL club.
At the very least, the Oilers have a player here who could help the Condors this year. The fact he’s still just 24 years old means there’s still room to grow for the defenceman, and over the years we’ve seen the Condors develop defenceman who have stepped into the NHL time and time again.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

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