The New Jersey Devils were successful in their 2017-18 campaign and part of the reason was due to the fact that the team actually had good depth players that were not being forced to play over their heads. The addition of Nico Hischier and Marcus Johansson as legitimate top 6 forward talents, as well as the surprise emergence of Jesper Bratt allowed some players to thrive in lineup spots where they were more comfortable. One of those players was Stefan Noesen.
Noesen started out as a 2011 late first round pick of the Ottawa Senators, but he would never appear in an NHL game for the team. He was shipped to the Anaheim Ducks as a piece in the Bobby Ryan deal; injuries disrupted his career trajectory, and the Ducks waived him partway through the 2016-17 season and the Devils, desperate to improve their roster at that point in time, put in a successful claim. He chipped in 8 points in his first 32 games as a Devil.
Noesen came ready to contribute in a greater role this past season; he appeared in a career high 72 contests, while contributing 13 goals and 14 assists, both career highs as well. Additionally, as the season went on, he found some nice chemistry alongside Travis Zajac and Blake Coleman to form the TnT Line; while not exactly an A Line or even a ZZ Pops, the trio managed to keep other teams best lines in check on a regular basis while also chipping in some points en route to a Devils playoff berth.
Having found chemistry with some teammates for the first time, and now having his first full NHL season under his belt, it’s worth questioning if Noesen has reached his potential at this level. While NHL rookie rules would define him as having completed two seasons, he’s only actually seen action in 118 NHL games, with a pair of them being one-offs at the end of a pair of seasons with the Ducks. While he may be nothing more than a quality bottom 6 player, it stands to reason that he could provide a bit more with some more responsibility and perhaps some special team play. Noesen could also be a late blooming forward, and while he might not be the next Martin St. Louis, it’s still reasonable to believe that with more NHL games and time, he could provide more offense than he has to date.
Stefan’s biggest problem throughout his career so far has been consistency; he had some struggles at points last season where he wound up being a healthy scratch, even though he was far from the only player who had those issues. With his linemates (hopefully) staying static this season, the chemistry and skill set they all bring could lead to more offensive contributions when TnT see more favorable match-ups; so when would that be for a shutdown line? On the road, the home team will have an advantage due to last change, so TnT may not always be out against the players that Coach John Hynes desires; in these cases, it will be crucial for this depth line to contribute, and that means Noesen will need to put some pucks past opposing goalies.
On the other side of the coin, perhaps last season was his peak; perhaps he maxes out as a 27 point, bottom 6 forward that can play solid defense as well. If that was honestly the case, he’s still proven that he can be an effective role player for this team, and his age still fits nicely with the nucleus of this New Jersey team; he may not be able to ascend any further in the lineup, but he’s useful and shouldn’t decline for a while either. Again, if that is the case, then the Devils will still have a fairly young, fairly cost controlled forward that provides some scoring and won’t be a liability in his own end.
What are your thoughts on Stefan Noesen to this point; do you think he has more room to grow? Do you think he will be more active and contribute more this season? Has he reached his peak; will he plateau around this level of production? Leave any and all comments below and thanks as always for reading!