Hugh-ge question mark


Always a man of my word, I have more in “today’s paper about Hugh Jessiman”:, the former first round draft pick who is still looking to establish himself as a pro.

Hartford Wolf Pack

As it happens, I watched Hugh a good amount in high school, since he played for Brunswick in neighboring Greenwich, and his former coach there, Mark Finnegan, is actually a friend of mine (incidentally, Finnegan was MY coach in pee-wees and then in high school. And you think Jessiman is frustrating to coach…). Back then, Jessiman obviously stood out from the competition, both because of his size and because of his hands around the net. When he was headed for Dartmouth, it was assumed he would succeed at the Division I level, but like a lot of people, I was fairly surprised when the Rangers picked him 12th overall in the 2003 draft.

As Brendan Shanahan said, there’s no question that Jessiman has “the tools” to play at the NHL level. Making use of those tools is a whole other thing. From what I saw of him the first few days of camp, Jessiman looked adrift on the ice. But on Sunday, he began to throw his body around, and yesterday in the Blue and White scrimmage, he had the two goals. Whether that will be enough to thrust him into contention for an NHL job is doubtful. But maybe it was enough to at least start gather some momentum.

“This is it,” he said on Monday. “There’s only a couple of spots, and judging by last year, maybe I don’t have that spot. But at the same time, I’m trying to go in every day and open the window a little bit for myself.”

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  1. It would be nice, if Jessiman could make the team, but I just don’t see it happening.

    Since there are probably only 2 forward spots available (center and wing), Jessiman will have to have a huge impact in the preseason to bump Dawes, Dubinsky and Immonen out of the picture…

    Of course if he plays well enough and tears it up, then the Rangers would be forced to give him ice-time in the NHL and trade someone like Hossa or Ward to make room for Jessiman.

    But I just don’t see it happening. IMO we’re looking at at least one more season in the AHL for him unless he can crack the top-3 lines on the Rangers; it would be very counter-productive to his development to have him play spare minutes on the 4th line as opposed to 1st/2nd line minutes in Hartford.

    He’s also 22 already and hasn’t dazzled in the AHL yet either. Soon he will have to fight off guys like Callahan, Petruzalek, Cliche etc. for playing time in Hartford and those guys have all the potential to bump Hugh down in the depth chart.

    So it really is becoming a do-or-die season for him in that regard….

  2. Tom —
    Great call. I failed to mention this earlier, but a popular phrase around here regarding Jessiman has been that “this is a big year” for him. Whether that translates into “do-or-die,” I don’t know. Maybe it’s the same thing.

  3. Sam,

    Nice piece on Hugh. You mentioned working out at BU, but you left out one of the most important things about that: BU strength and conditioning coach Mike Boyle, who’s tremendously respected for preparing players for the NHL. C’mon, your partner on the blog is a BU alum, how did he let you leave out the Terrier love for Mike Boyle?

  4. Eddy —

    Great call. In fact, Jessiman specifically mentioned that for the first part of the summer, Shanahan only stopped by the rink to pick up a workout sheet from Boyle, and then joined everyone for skates later on.
    Apparently I can’t get anything past you guys.

  5. Eddy…

    Why did Sam not flesh out the info on BU, which, by the way, has produced more NHL players than any other school??? Perhaps it is due to HIS college of choice.

    Sam is an alum of hated UNH, the home of more 5-foot-8, 150-pound forwards and disillusioned fans than any other team in college hockey. He had to live through the Chris Drury era, which was probably pretty darn maddening for Hockey East fans outside of the Boston proper. Giving BU its due must be tough for him.

    Need I say more?

  6. Wow, suddenly it’s getting personal. I forget, is BU a four-year or two-year institution?
    And yes, UNH has produced its share of undersized forwards, perhaps because our players are actually OF COLLEGE AGE and not 26-year-old men with three kids and a mortgage.

  7. Patrick Hoffman on

    Hugh Jessiman does have the tools to be a solid professional hockey player. He has size, strength and is finally starting to realize that the goals he scores do not have to be pretty. If anything, he’ll be more of a garbage goal kind of guy.

    One thing that Jessiman has had trouble with is career choices. He has always chosen the less-competitive leagues whether it’d be in Fairfield Bantam Hockey, Prep School Hockey or even choosing to stay another year at Dartmouth when he would have been better off playing in junior hockey or with a big time college hockey school. As a result, this has set him behind other Ranger youngsters.

    In conclusion, it would be beneficial to him and the Rangers if he could play with Hartford. He should get a lot of ice time there and learn how to be the player that he has been in camp: tough, goes hard to the net and keeps it simple.

  8. Y’all are haters on the kid. It wasn’t so much bad decisions as a nasty ankle injury that slowed Huge up. He will make it. And be a big time player. I really respect the Rangers. He will own Hartford if sent back there. He does have the Killer instinct so you all can let that go.

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