By Thomas Harrington
After suffering through two major injuries in his first two professional seasons, Stefan Noesen finally had a healthy season where he played in 65 of San Diego’s 68 games. One of the three pieces acquired in the Bobby Ryan trade, the Ducks have high hopes for the former first round pick.
Despite finally being healthy, Noesen didn’t put up the kind of numbers that were expected from him. He scored 10 goals and 32 points in the regular season, and his 32 points were tied for ninth on the team. Noesen really struggled early in the season and didn’t score his first goal until mid-December. He followed up his first goal of the season by scoring two more times in the next game. His play got better as the season progressed, and he was at his best in the playoffs when he scored two goals and seven points playing in all nine of San Diego’s playoff games. Like the rest of the Gulls, he was much better in the first round, as he scored two goals and six points in the first round series win over Texas, but only had one assist in the loss to Ontario.
Noesen played well enough in the second half of the season to earn a call-up to Anaheim and play in his second career NHL game in March. He played just over 10 minutes and recorded no points or shots on goal.
A year ago, I said that I wanted to see Noesen be healthy and be one of San Diego’s leading scorers. Well, he was finally healthy, but being ninth on the Gulls in scoring was a disappointment. However, given how much time he’s missed in the previous two years, it’s not a huge surprise that he had a slow start to this season. Last year wasn’t a great year for Noesen, but given that his play improved as the season progressed is a good sign. If his cold streak had lasted all season, I’d be more concerned, but since he was able to have a strong end to the season, he could still turn into a solid NHL player.
Similar to Joseph Cramarossa, Noesen is one of a handful of San Diego players from last season who I think has a strong chance of making Anaheim’s lineup this season. His offensive potential is significantly higher than Cramarossa and given the potential holes currently in Anaheim’s top six, he could fit right in. The biggest problem is that he plays on the right side. Corey Perry and Jakob Silfverberg are the top right wingers on the Ducks right now. However, depending on how the Ducks’ lines work out, he could still end up on one of the team’s scoring lines. Given how well Silfverberg, Ryan Kesler, and Andrew Cogliano played together last season, I would expect them to stay together to at least start this season. The real question is what happens with Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. If they are split up and Perry is next to Rickard Rakell, Noesen could work well next to Getzlaf this coming season. Or, if Getzlaf and Perry are kept together, Noesen could play with Rakell.
Noesen’s entry level contract ended this summer, and he was just re-signed to a one-year two-way contract by the Ducks. Anaheim clearly thinks he has a future with them, but they want him to prove it. Now that he’s been healthy for a year, he needs to have a big season. If Noesen spends most of this season in the AHL, I want him to be one of San Diego’s leading scorers this season. However, I’m really hoping he can grab the right wing spot next to either Getzlaf or Rakell. Along with Jared Boll, the Ducks currently only have three right wings on their roster. The Ducks are usually weaker on the left side, but as of right now, there’s an open spot on the Ducks’ right side, and I’d love to see him grab it. If he doesn’t or the Ducks fill that position via trade or free agency, he needs to be one of San Diego’s best forwards this coming season. Like a lot of young players, he doesn’t need to play the entire season in Anaheim, but if he could play in at least 10 to 20 games and score a few goals; that would go a long way to showing the progress he has made.
Even though he was only extended for a year, I expect the Ducks to extend him again next summer. He’s a young, skilled forward, the likes of which are necessary for teams to be competitive in today’s NHL.
The next prospect update will be on defenseman Andrew O’Brien.
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