If you were to guess early in the season as to which new forward in the Carolina Hurricanes' lineup was likely to make the biggest impact, Stefan Noesen probably wouldn’t be the player that came to mind.
A few years ago, Noesen was an NHL regular with the New Jersey Devils and while he wasn’t producing a ton, he had a roster spot for a stretch of a couple years. After that though, he ended up just bouncing around between teams and over the last two seasons, Noesen managed to get into just eight NHL games. By last season, he was a full-time AHLer and in his late-20s, earning a NHL role didn’t seem likely.
However, after joining the Hurricanes organization in 2021, Noesen posted massive numbers last season in the AHL. He scored 48 goals and 85 points in just 70 games with the Chicago Wolves, leading the AHL in goals and helping the Wolves to a Calder Cup. At the very least, it was enough to draw some attention.
After signing a two-year contract at the league minimum this summer, it still really didn’t seem as though he was a likely bet to make the Hurricanes’ roster out of camp. With few players from the forward group last year departing and others like Paul Stastny and Ondrej Kase being brought in, there wasn’t much room for Noesen.
However, Noesen earned his spot on the roster and after sitting out the season opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets, he’s played in every game since. Through 31 games this season, the forward has six goals and 16 points in 31 games, a pace of 16 goals and 42 points per 82 games.
What makes the production even more important is the fact that Carolina really hasn’t gotten a ton of consistent offense from forwards outside of Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov and Martin Necas.
Noesen has certainly shown he’s capable of producing at the NHL level though, with four goals and nine points over just his last 12 games. He's getting time on the power play and at this point, he ranks tied for first on the team in power play goals.
While he is a bottom-six forward, he’s also shown to be versatile. Noesen can play up the lineup with Carolina’s top forwards when called upon, playing with a lot of intensity, and possessing a good finishing touch around the net.
We know the Hurricanes will have to make room in the lineup when some key forwards start to come back into action, notably Sebastian Aho, Ondrej Kase, and then finally Max Pacioretty. Even as players return though, it seems likely that Noesen’s spot will be safe.
There are few players providing the impact Noesen has for the money he's making. It’s somewhat of an unexpected development, but Noesen has turned into an important part of Carolina’s forward group this season.