Top 25 Under 25, no. 12: Stefan Noesen
The excitement of having a top ten pick for the first time since the Matt Gilroy Brian Lee mistake had subsided. We had all, for the most part settled in. Whether watching with friends, by ourselves, listening on the radio, or following online, maybe even live tweeting at the same time, Sens fans were anxious for what player would be snagged by the group from Ottawa at the 21st overall selection. Likely never before had the fanbase been so enamored with a draft class, so knowledgeable of players who ended up being picked well into the forties...sixties?
So, who was it going to be? The kid who scores a lot of goals (I think his name is Pimples or something)? The Memorial Cup was over, and Jonathan Huberdeau's fellow Sea Dogs star Zack Phillips was still on the table... or maybe that flashy dangler, so reminiscent of a young Marian Hossa- Tomas Jurco? No matter who it was, surely we would all smile in recognition, nodding our heads approvingly, thinking of all of those, uh, youtube clips we'd seen. Right?
Well, Tim Murray stepped up and announced that Ottawa had selected Stefan Noesen, a native of Plano, Texas. Even for those who knew the name, and knew of his strong season with Plymouth of the OHL, it was a surprise. Everyone else rushed to hockeydb to begin to see what they thought of the pick. While this mayhem ensued, TSN did their categorical breakdown of the pick, which compares somewhat to the analyses that the horses get in the walkover prelude to the Kentucky Derby. In it, they gave Stefan Noesen the charming comparable of Maxim Lapierre. Gee, couldn't they at least have picked a player that even CBC's top commentating duo would have a hard time not punching? And seriously, those guys work with Glenn Healy... look, the jump!
A few weeks ago, I erroneously wrote that Stefan Noesen is the captain of his Plymouth Whalers. He is not. Boy, was I ever wrong. Hopefully, the fact that the real captain's name is Beau Schmitz can serve as enough of a distraction for you to forgive me. His first season in the OHL, as it often is for everyone but the phenoms, did not have him seeing too much ice time, nor did it see him accumulating many points. Three goals and eight points was it. Pedestrian, indeed. But as draft year came around, lo and behold Noesen was a leader on the team, ballooning his point totals to 77 in 68 games. This year, he's improved more, jumping to 84. That regular season tally obviously does not include his output of two night's ago against the Guelph Storm-- FIVE points, with FOUR coming on the powerplay.
Noesen is nineteen years old. His Whalers are still battling against the Storm- yes, they were trailing the series two games to none, but a 7-1 drubbing has a way of changing up the dynamics of a series. There are eight games to go in Binghamton's forlorn year, and a loss in this series could have Noesen joining them for the last four or five, but he's back down to Plymouth next season for his final year of CHL eligibility. Unless...
If Noesen doesn't return to Plymouth, it is because he's made the NHL team. Is that likely? Probably not. But why all the hubbub when Noesen was drafted? Many called it a reach, suggesting the Senators didn't need to take him at that pick before trading up for the perceived hotter commodity in Matt Puempel. (After all, Noesen was the pick we got for Mike Fisher! And Fisher was sooooo dreamy!) Noesen was no higher than second in many pre-draft rankings. Still, some admitted that other teams had him rising coming closer to draft day, and he had scored 34 goals for the Whalers.
Whenever someone disagrees with common wisdom, which maintains the Detroit Red Wings are genius at the draft table, they do so because "if they knew those guys were going in the sixth and seventh, they would have picked him in the first!" While the logic infuriatingly excuses the importance of scouting throughout the draft, it does make one very simple (minded), but useful conclusion-- a team should take the players they see as best in the draft if they fall to them, no matter where TSN panelists had him ranked. Stefan Noesen was clearly the Murray Team's man.
From the second he was drafted, the comparison Noesen faced was to Anaheim star Corey Perry. Not to disappoint, but Noesen is not the only to be treated to this pleasing comparison. Mark Stone, Matt Puempel ("we traded two second round picks for him just like Murray traded two seconds for PERRY!!!! LET'S ALL BE HAPPY!") and Corey Perry are some of the few to get the Corey Perry treatment. There are some important parallels to be drawn- all of the aforementioned are goal-scorers, and get many of them in dirty areas and right in front of the net. This is promising for any prospect- it's a sign they don't get their goals in junior in ways that aren't translatable. Noesen figures to be a top-six/nine skater. He is tall, versatile and with good hands and a good shot. He may need a season in Binghamton, but figures to be a part of the core of this team in years down the road.