Nashville Predators Prospect Jeremy Hanzel: He's So Hot Right Now

The Predators Newest Defensive Prospect Is Lighting Up Junior Hockey

Seattle Thunderbirds v Everett Silvertips
Seattle Thunderbirds v Everett Silvertips / Christopher Mast/GettyImages
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After a very active trade deadline, the NHL is back in full swing and players are settled into their new teams. The Nashville Predators deal sending Yakov Trenin along with Graham Sward for defenseman Jeremy Hanzel and Colorado’s 2025 third-round draft pick is one of those deals however though that won't yield any immediate results for the Predators, but could be one that helps them as they continue the rapid nature of their "rebuild".

Hanzel was drafted 187th overall (6th round) in the 2023 NHL Draft by the Colorado Avalanche. He was drafted late in the draft, and in his draft eligibility cycle ( all players turning 18 years old on or before September 15 and younger than 20 years old before December 31 of the draft year) so he was drafted at 20, but proved that he's worth of having a team to a shot on him.

Preds Have a Promising Defensive Prospect from the Trenin Trade

Hanzel has typical NHL size at 6’ 1”, 196 pounds which will allow him to compete with the majority of the players on the ice. However, it is his skating ability and his on-ice vision that has allowed him to become one of the highest-scoring defensemen in the WHL.

Starring for the Seatle Thunderbirds, Hanzel in his draft year played 66 games for the team-record 48 points (13 goals 35 assists) and was an absurd +70. This year he's managed 56 points (15 goals 41 assists) in 63 games, but the Thunderbirds didn't have a great year team-wise. He leads the team in scoring among all players and is 7th among all WHL defenders in scoring.

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Obviously Hanzel leans more toward the modern style of defense. He is going to look to move the puck, isn't afraid to carry it, and wants to be heavily involved in the offense. He's also a go-to player on the power play, with 27 points (8 goals 19 assists) coming from tallies with the extra man. The thing with Hanzel that likely led to him initially being passed over in the draft, and then left until the later rounds is that he doesn't have a defining skill.

This kind of player is often slapped with the "high hockey IQ" tag. You'll hear scouts talk about how he thinks the game at a high level, or that everything seems slow because of how smart of a player he is. So let's look at his highlight tape from the 2022-23 season.

Hanzel clearly has a very good shot, but even the average NHL defender can rip a heavy shot with enough time and space.

What you see in this tape is Hanzel joining the rush, taking advantage of odd-man situations, or taking space during confusing situations. He is a player willing to put himself in the areas to score. As a defenseman he's hard to mark because he's coming from further away and he has the sense and awareness to shake the player marking him.

If this skill carries through during camps and the AHL time he's sure to get soon, we might be seeing Jeremy Hanzel waltzing down Broadway with his deft hands and hard shot sooner rather than later.

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