When Stefan Noesen was selected in the first round, 21st overall, by the Ottawa Senators in the 2011 NHL Draft, there is no way that he could have predicted all that would take place in the ensuing seven years to this point, nor would he want to.
There was a suspension that cost the Plano, Texas native a spot on Team USA’s roster for the 2013 World Junior Championships. Several months later, in July of 2013, Noesen was traded to the Anaheim Ducks, as part of the Bobby Ryan-Jakob Silfverberg swap, before he ever played a single game in the Senators’ system.
Those were just body blows for Noesen to absorb. The head shots, which knocked him down, but not out, were to come in successive seasons in the form of two major injuries which limited him to 29 games played over the course of the 2013-14 and 2014-15 campaigns.
Now, after a string of stops and starts in the Ducks organization, Noesen is a New Jersey Devil, claimed off waivers Wednesday, and expected to be in the lineup Thursday against the Washington Capitals at the Prudential Center.
All that said, happy to be apart of the @NJDevils organization! Beyond excited to get things started! 👹👹
— Stefan Noesen (@stefannoesen) January 25, 2017
“Noesen is a guy who was a very good player in junior,” said Devils head coach John Hynes. “He’s got good size, he skates well. He’s had some injury trouble the last couple of years. Our professional scouting department and the guys who have watched and seen him play believe he is a player who’s got upside and has attributes that we like. He’s fast, he’s got some size, he can play left or right-wing. We’ll give him an opportunity and see if he can help our team out.”
The 2011 draft class is not regarded as a very deep or successful one. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins went No. 1 overall to the Edmonton Oilers, while Gabriel Landeskog (No. 2), Jonathan Huberdeau (No. 3), Mika Zibanejad (No. 6), Mark Schiefele (No. 7), Sean Couturier (No. 8) Dougie Hamilton (No. 9), J.T. Miller (No. 15) and Rickard Rackell (No. 30) are other first rounders who have also made their mark, so far, in the NHL.
Noesen was Ottawa’s second first-round selection, 15 picks after Zibanejad. Unlike Zibanejad’s steady progress in the professional ranks, which continues now as a member of the New York Rangers, Noesen’s has been full of stops and starts.
The 6-foot-2, 205 pounder scored 38 goals and totaled 82 points in 63 games with Plymouth (OHL) in 2011-12 and then followed that up with 25-28-53 numbers in 51 games the following season, one that included a ten-game suspension for an on-ice infraction.
Anaheim was thrilled to acquire Noesen in the summer of 2013 as the Ducks were disappointed he was no longer available in 2011 when it was their turn to make a selection in the first round. However, a devastating knee injury and subsequent surgery limited Noesen to only two minor league games played the entire 2013-14 campaign.
After diligently working his way back from the knee issue, Noesen suffered another major injury, this time to his achilles, the following season.
Noesen appeared in only 27 games with Norfolk (AHL) in 2014-15, showing some promise, though, by registering seven goals and nine assists. He made his NHL debut with the Ducks on April 3 that year.
Last season, Noesen appeared in 65 minor league games, though he scored only ten goals. This season, he bounced between the Ducks, where he appeared in 12 games and scored the first two goals of his NHL career, and the minors before being claimed off waivers by the Devils.
The Devils have scored the third-fewest goals in the entire National Hockey League this season. They have holes among both their Top 6 and Bottom 6 forward groups. And the Devils are desperate for a spark as they stand on the slippery slope between playoff contention and oblivion, facing a possible fifth straight year out of the post-season.
This makes New Jersey a perfect spot for Noesen to receive a fair opportunity and ice-time, and to be judged by a fresh set of eyes in a new organization.
Welcome new Devil Stefan Noesen to the Red and Green. He will be in the line-up tonight when we face the @Capitals pic.twitter.com/aPx1tRZ9AN
— NJD Equipment Staff (@NJDSk8Guy) January 26, 2017
“We’re going to put him in and play him and see what he can do,” explained Hynes.
At Thursday’s morning skate Noesen skated on the team’s third line, alongside center Jacob Josefson and rookie Pavel Zacha.
Here’s video Andrew Gross of NorthJersey.com shot with Noesen after the morning skate.
It’s a change of locale, conference and much more for Noesen, coming to the Devils from the Ducks.
Most importantly, it’s a change in opportunity.