Devils Find Talent Deep in the Heart of Texas

There doesn’t seem to be many — if any — geological barriers left in the NHL.

Arizona-born Auston Mathews has broken through as a rookie sensation in Toronto and the Devils Beau Bennett became the first California-born player to win the Stanley Cup.

And now, New Jersey has not one, but TWO Plano, Texas-born players.

Blake Coleman made his NHL debut in Edmonton and was a big part of the team’s successful four-game road trip out West, which lifted the team back into contention for the Eastern Conference playoff race.

On Wednesday, GM Ray Shero acquired Texas-born forward Stefan Noesen from Anaheim. Noesen (pronounced Nay-son), was born in the Dallas suburbs and lived there — and played hockey there — until he was 14. Not surprisingly, he and Coleman played together from the time they were 4 or 5 years old.

“There wasn’t much youth hockey in Texas when I started or many organizations,” Noesen said before his Devils debut. “But we use to stack one team with all the good players and we won a lot!”

There is a Canadian connection here, as Noesen started skating with his great-grandfather who was originally from Canada. And his dad was a superb athlete. Just not at Stefan’s sport of choice.

The reason the Noesen’s lived in Dallas was because Stefan’s dad, Glen, was a college basketball star at nearby Angelo State.

Go figure.

Why didn’t Stefan follow in his dad’s footsteps?

“I played basketball for sure, but I fouled out too much! Never liked it as much as hockey,” Noesen said.

Here, Noesen doesn’t have to worry about fouling out, and the Devils are hoping he brings a physical element to Prudential Center. That and his speed are the main reasons — head coach John Hynes mentioned — why the Devils signed him when presented with an opportunity to shore up their lineup right before the All-Star break.

As long as he doesn’t spend too much time in the penalty box, I guess!