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DALLAS – Oshawa Generals forward Serron Noel could relate to the old  Tom Petty & TheHeartbreakers hit “The Waiting.” 

The waiting was the hardest part as Noel, projected to be a first-round pick at the 2018 NHL Draft, sat and sat and sat through the opening round and left Dallas’ AmericanAirlines Center Friday. He left the arena without hearing his name called.

He didn’t have to wait long Saturday as the Florida Panthers – a team in the late Petty’s beloved home state – chose Noel in the second round with the 34th overall pick.

Oshawa Generals forward Serron Noel was projected as a first-round draft pick but slipped into the second round (Photo/Aaron Bell/OHL Images).

“Definitely a little frustrating just waiting through the whole process, thinking you’re going to go,” a relieved-looking Noel said. “But you come in today hoping you go pretty early. I’m just so excited to be picked by the Florida Panthers.”

He said he’s looking forward to “being an ambassador or role model” to the Miami-area’s diverse community.

“Someone who can reach out to the young children and just kind of inspire,” Noel added. “Because it is a new age, and hockey’s becoming more diverse, and I want to be someone like P.K. Subban, someone who can kind of be a role model in the game.”

NHL Central Scouting ranked Noel as the 10th-best North American skater available in the draft.

The 6-foot-5, 205-pounder from Guelph, Ontario, was the Generals’ second-leading goal scorer with 28. He was fifth overall on the team in scoring with 28 goals and 25 assists for 53 points in 62 regular season games.

He had an assist in five OHL playoff games and chipped in 2 goals and 4 assists in five games for Canada at the 2018 U18 world juniors.

Dennis MacInnis, director of scouting for ISS Hockey called Noel an “intriguing package of size and skill.”

“Skating has improved slightly (but) still needs to improve speed,” MacInnis wrote in his assessment of Noel. “Hard on the forecheck. Load to handle in front of the net and down below the goal lines for defenders.”

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Karl Stewart, who evaluates OHL talent for NHL Central Scouting, told NHL.com that “it’s scary to think about the player he’ll be when he’s fully developed.”

“His skating is as close to NHL ready when he wants to skate,” Stewart said. “He can drive you wide and get around you, and he’s got quick acceleration to separate himself from anyone.”

Noel said he’s been working to  get even better on his blades and hopes to showcase his skating skills at the Panthers’ development camp next week.

Noel, 17, is the son of Dean Noel, a former Canadian Football League wide receiver. He steered Serron toward hockey because of concerns about the rate of  concussions in football.

“Growing up, I was never really exposed to football,” Serron said. “A bunch of kids on my street were out playing road hockey all the time. I joined them and had a lot of fun, so I think hockey has just always been the right sport for me.”

Erica L. Ayala contributed to this report. Follow her @elindsay08.

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