The Chicago Blackhawks have sent Nathan Noel back to the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL, likely meaning he’s now healthy enough to resume playing. Noel started the year on season-opening injured reserve after missing most of training camp due to injury.
Noel, 20, is in his first professional season after being selected in the fourth round of the 2016 draft. Last year in the QMJHL, he continued his consistent play with 24 goals and 50 points in 52 games. That marked the third straight season he’d recorded 20+ goals, and though he was overshadowed at times by higher profile prospects, Chicago thought highly enough of him to give him an entry-level contract this spring.
The small forward was passed over in his first eligible draft in 2015, despite being ranked 54th among North American skaters by the NHL’s Central Scouting. He had after all been a top bantam prospect, taken third overall in the QMJHL priority selection in 2013. His name never came though, and he had to wait several rounds once again in 2016. The next step will be showing the same versatility in Rockford that made him so valuable in Saint John. Noel is able to play several different styles effectively, and still has some offensive upside in his game.