The Florida Panthers selected winger Serron Noel in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft after he put up 28 goals and 25 assists in second OHL season with the Oshawa Generals.
Noel was taken with the conditional second pick (34th overall) that the Panthers received in the trade that sent Dave Bolland’s onerous contract and 2015 first-rounder Lawson Crouse, a player somewhat similar to Noel, to the Arizona Coyotes on August 25, 2016.
The Cats also picked up a third round pick in 2017 in the trade that they used to select defenseman Max Gildon.
After being drafted and briefly attending training camp with Florida, Noel returned to Oshawa, where he blossomed offensively during his third OHL season, finishing as the team’s leading scorer with 34 goals, 47 assists and 81 points (all career-highs) while playing in all 68 regular season games.
In the playoffs, Noel produced four goals and 11 points while playing 14 of 15 games, helping his team advance to the Eastern Conference final, where they were swept by the Ottawa 67s.
On March 8, 2019, Noel was signed by the Panthers to a three-year, entry-level contract.
He began the 2019-20 season with the Generals after unsurprisingly failing to win a spot with the Panthers. On November 10, Noel notched his third OHL hat trick, while adding an assist to match his career high for points in a game with four in a 4-2 win over the Kitchener Rangers.
On January 8, 2020, Noel was traded to those same Rangers for a player and four draft picks. At the time of the trade, Noel had 13 goals and 29 points in 28 games for the Generals.
Noel played 20 games for his new club in Kitchener, one that was expected to contend for the league title, and after struggling a bit to find his footing, put up five goals and 18 points before the rest of the season was canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
His combined total of 47 points in 48 games was a little disappointing considering he put up 81 points the season prior. Noel was expected to more productive, and perhaps dominant, but that didn’t happen. His goal total was greatly affected by the trade, as he was on pace for another 30-goal campaign while in Oshawa. That said, Noel showed improvement in his two-way game and skating, which might be more important going forward.
Serron played 241 regular season games in the OHL and produced 88 goals and 114 assists for a total of 202 points. He also proved that he has a bit of an edge by racking up 203 PIM while in the league.
Internationally, Noel was part of the gold medal-winning Canadian U18 team in the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, where he scored one goal in five games. He also represented Canada at the 2018 U18 World Junior Championships, producing two goals and four assists in five games before his team was eliminated in the quarterfinals by the Czech Republic.
It doesn’t seem like there is much left to prove for him in major junior and the most likely 2020-21 outcome for the 6’6”, 216 lbs winger is starting off his professional career in the AHL as opposed to him returning to the OHL as an over-ager.
Noel is now a pretty good skater for his size, and that combination of size, strength and decent hands is something that is sorely needed in Sunrise. It seems pretty likely we’ll see him with the Panthers at some point in the near future.
Currently, the Panthers have four UFAs and three RFAs among its forward ranks, so Noel could force his way onto the 2020-21 roster with a big training camp showing, especially if the mandate is to cut payroll, but I’d expect the Cats will send him to the minors, like they wisely did with Owen Tippett, and it’s more likely that he will contend for a big-league roster spot in 2021-22.