Stefan Noesen still remembers the day he was drafted in the NHL like it was yesterday, when the Ottawa Senators surprised him by taking him with the 21st overall pick back in 2011.
The Ducks remember it well too, even though they weren’t the ones who picked him.
The Anaheim brass, who were high on Noesen going into that draft, had their sights set on the winger when the Senators snagged him one pick before the Ducks were set to hit the stage at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Not able to get the guy they wanted, the Ducks instead traded that pick to Toronto for the 30th and 39th selections (which they used on center Rickard Rakell and goalie John Gibson).
“I thought I might get picked by the Ducks,” Noesen (pronounced NAY-sen) says now, on the first day of an important training camp for him in Anaheim. “I had two meetings with them, one at the combine and one at the Draft. I had a very strong feeling I was going to go there.”
In a twist of fate, the Ducks ended up getting their man two summers later, as Noesen came to Anaheim with winger Jakob Silfverberg in the deal that sent Bobby Ryan to Ottawa.
“He’s the reason we moved down in the draft a couple of years ago because he went right before our pick,” said Ducks Executive Vice President and General Manager Bob Murray. “He was a guy we had identified and when we didn’t get him we moved down. Now we’ve been able to get him.”
|“The day that it happened, and I found out what the injury was, I was devastated,” Noesen says. “I thought my career was almost over. That’s how it felt.” |
Noesen played a full 2013 preseason with the Ducks, but any hopes of further showing the organization what they had in him was dashed early in the regular season. After just two games with Anaheim’s AHL affiliate in Norfolk, he tore major ligaments in his left knee during practice, requiring surgery to repair his ACL and MCL.
“The day that it happened, and I found out what the injury was, I was devastated,” Noesen says. “I thought my career was almost over. That’s how it felt.”
Noesen, who despite the Scandinavian-looking name is a proud native of Texas who sports a tattoo of the Lone Star State flag. He knew he was facing several months of arduous rehab back home and in Anaheim, but he found solace in his family – namely parents Glen and Jamie, both former college basketball players.
“My dad had the same surgery and my mom has had some knee surgery, so our family has a pretty good history of it,” says Noesen, who grew up in Plano, just outside of Dallas. “I think that helped me when they talked me through it.
“They just said, ‘You’re going to come back and be even stronger.’ Everyone was very supportive and very positive, so that kind of helped my outlook change from, ‘Oh my God, I’m done’ to having more of a positive outlook and seeing the things I needed to work on."
Against the odds, Noesen fought back to join his Admirals teammates for Game 3 of their Calder Cup Playoffs second-round series with St. John’s. In his first game, he assisted on two goals, and ended up with four assists in four contests, though the Ads were eliminated in six.
|“I’m going to stick to what I’m good at, and I know what I can bring to the team. If they like it, they’ll keep me around for a little bit longer. If they want me to go down and play some games in the minors, I will. I’m just putting everything I can out there on the line." |
“It was a goal of mine to come back and play one or two games, just so I could get some confidence back,” Noesen says. “It was a goal, but I wasn’t sure if it was a possibility. But with everyone who helped me between the staff and my doctor here, I owe them everything. They helped me get to where I am now.”
Now with the knee at full strength, the 21-year-old Noesen faces another ambition as he enters his second training camp in Anaheim – to make the Ducks' opening-night roster. With a strong 6-1, 201-pound frame and tons of skill, he has plenty to offer the Ducks at both ends. He scored 96 goals in 182 games in his final three seasons with the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL, so you can understand why he expresses some disappointment that he didn’t score a goal in those four playoff games in Norfolk.
As far as making this Ducks team now, Noesen says, “I’m going to stick to what I’m good at, and I know what I can bring to the team. If they like it, they’ll keep me around for a little bit longer. If they want me to go down and play some games in the minors, I will.
“I’m just putting everything I can out there on the line.”