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The Hanifin Watch Is On After BC Defenseman Selected #5 Overall By Carolina

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Will he or won't he?

Noah Hanifin didn't fall too far from early projections, going #5 overall last night to the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of the NHL entry draft. The highly-touted Eagles defenseman drew a lot of interest from teams interested in trading up for his services, including his hometown Boston Bruins, but in the end it was a team who stood pat at #5 who brought him in to the fold.

Now the important question for BC fans is what happens next. Hanifin is an incredible talent and someone with the potential to be a franchise player for a Carolina team that desperately needs one. However, he's still young and raw, and he's expressed an openness to possibly returning to BC next year. Hanifin's presence would make a huge impact on the Eagles blue line next year; by the end of this past season, he was already looking like one of the best defensemen in Hockey East.

Hanifin has yet to make a definitive decision one way or the other on his future. He will be attending Carolina's rookie development camp in a few weeks and we likely won't know what he chooses until that time. Odds are, the decision will be driven by whether or not Carolina foresees him as an NHL regular next season.

The Canes have a few good pieces on the blue line, most notably young American Justin Faulk. They also have some solid veterans like Ron Hainsey and John-Michael Liles. However, guys like that may well be on the block for Carolina as they look to improve their salary situation and shed some older players as they retool. So there's a real possibility Hanifin could be in their plans sooner rather than later.

If Hanifin arrives at camp this fall and doesn't look ready to crack the NHL lineup, the Hurricanes could always send him to major junior for more polishing, so I fear it seems likelier than not that he'll go. Given Hanifin's potential as a franchise player, the Hurricanes would probably rather have him more in their control and under contract so his development happens on their terms.

But, we can all hope that I'm wrong.

The NHL Draft resumes today on NHL Network, with several more Eagles having the potential to be drafted in rounds 2-7.