On Saturday, the Toronto Marlies announced the signings of two CHL graduates to AHL contracts. Left defenseman Noel Hoefenmayer and right winger Jeremy McKenna will be joining the Marlies and Newfoundland Growlers for the next two seasons.

Noel Hoefenmayer

Drafted in the fourth round of the 2017 NHL Draft, Noel Hoefenmayer was left unsigned by the Arizona Coyotes, despite many fans and analysts certain he had earned an NHL contract. Almost undisputedly the top overage defenseman in the OHL will now join the best development system in the Toronto Marlies for two years on an AHL/ECHL deal.

According to the sources I’ve read about Hoefenmayer’s and why hsi stock is so low despite obvious talent and point production, a lot mentioned his skating as the flaw. This post by Lauren Kelly at our sister site Raw Charge goes miles deeper in terms of explaining that his edgework that limits his movement, though his straight-line speed and positioning defensively are sound.

“That seems like a contradiction at first glance, but Hoefenmayer has solid straight line speed, it’s his edgework that needs improvement. He has good scoring instincts and knows when and when not to jump into the rush or pinch on plays.” - Lauren Kelly, Raw Charge

Six CHL overagers shining offensively in their final seasons of junior hockey

This seems like a no-brainer bet for the Marlies and Maple Leafs alike. The Leafs have far-and-away the best development setup in pro hockey, with some of the best development staff, data systems, and facilities. Similar to players like Travis Dermott, Frederik Gauthier, Mason Marchment, Justin Holl, Martin Marincin, Calle Rosen, and up-and-coming prospects like Justin Brazeau and Kristians Rubins, Hoefenmayer has a lot of qualities you want in a hockey player, but just requires some more development to fully realize them.

It’s weird that the Coyotes decided to not sign him and develop him themselves, here’s what the team’s Director of Amateur Scouting had to say about him in 2017. I find it really odd that the Coyotes wouldn’t even try to develop him themselves with the AHL Tucson Roadrunners.

“He’s very good with the puck,” Tim Bernhardt, Arizona’s Director of Amateur Scouting, said at the draft. “There’s some offense with him. He loves to get involved in the play and is very proactive from the back end and jumps into the play and recognizes when to. We think that with some skating development he was a real good value in the fourth round.” - NHL dot com.

But, hey, he’s our gold now.

67’s defenceman Noel Hoefenmayer has been named the OHL's defenceman of the month of January - Ottawa 67s
Hoefenmayer named OHL's Defenceman of the Month for December - Ottawa 67s
67's Noel Hoefenmayer named the OHL's Defenceman of the Month of October - Ottawa 67s


Jeremy “The Summerside Sniper” McKenna

Oh, great, another Jeremy who plays RW.

Jeremy McKenna, a native of Summerside, PEI, went undrafted in 2017 out of the QMJHL after a poor first season in the league with the Moncton Wildcats. He had spent his age-17 season at a hockey academy in Latvia. Last summer, after posting 36 and 45 goals and being over a point-per-game for two straight seasons, McKenna was signed to an AHL contract by the Calgary Flames organization.

McKenna went to the Flames development camp and NHL training camp, but failed to make the Stockton Heat roster, so he went back for an overage year with Moncton. In this past season, McKenna scored 40 goals in 57 games and finished second in team scoring, behind Alexander Khovanov, a third round pick in 2018 by Minnesota.

McKenna coming back to Moncton Wildcats | The Guardian

McKenna spoke with Sportsnet after signing with the Flames, saying how much he’s ready to prove people wrong. Hopefully, that fire is still there when he restarts his pro career which is likely with the Newfoundland Growlers.

Undrafted Jeremy McKenna ready to prove doubters wrong with Flames

The 5’10” winger can stick-handle well in tight and has a good shot. He’s kind of like your classic juniors scorer who can beat you with talent and creativity. Unfortunately, there’s not much public scouting information on McKenna so we’ll have to wait for when hockey returns to see a bigger picture of his game and where development strides can be made.