Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Hugh Jessiman Vows To Get Physical

I got a job. Professional driveway skulker
Wolf Pack forward Hugh Jessiman (photo credits: Chris Rutsch)

Being the New York Rangers' #1 draft pick three years ago has brought a lot of expectations upon Hugh Jessiman, expectations that he's yet to live up to. In his first full season as a pro last year, Jessiman was often too soft for his size (6'-6", 225), without enough scoring punch to make up the difference (7g, 12a in 46 games with the Pack). Sent down to ECHL Charlotte in November, Jessiman did well (23 points in 25 games), and upon his return to Hartford, showed a willingness to be more agressive on the ice.

The good news is, Jessiman is taking last year's learning experience, combined with some pointed advice from the Rangers coaching staff, and vowing to step up the physical side of his game.

From a June 26th article in the Darien (Ct.) Times (thanks to Pack Attack for the pointer):

Since being drafted 12th overall by the New York Rangers in the NHL Entry Draft three years ago, Hugh Jessiman, 22 of Darien, has spent his summers working out at the MSG Training Center in Greenburgh, N.Y.

This summer, the Hartford Wolf Pack winger and serious Rangers roster contender put in a hard-workout-times-100 at the club’s annual Prospects Camp, earlier this month. He’s done that three years running as well.

But he’s added a new push to his drive to prepare for the fall. Deciding to set his sights on making the top team in September, by shooting higher this summer still. Jessiman is continuing to hone his competitive edge in the Top Gun Hockey League at Hingham Rink in Massachusetts.

"Guys like myself (play in it)," Jessiman said. "Young pros. There are a couple of older pros that are there too. Since they (Rangers) know I am doing well (with conditioning), they leave me to do that (the Top Gun League) this summer. So it works out well."

Rangers Prospects Camp came up right on time this summer, getting him solidly on track following his rookie season, when he followed a common wavy adjustment curve moving up to the pro game. Jessiman began the 2005-06 season with Hartford, then did a spell with the Rangers’ ECHL club in Charlotte before being brought back up to the Pack in January, where he stayed the rest of the season.

At Prospects Camp, Rangers head coach Tom Renney told the 6-6, 225-pound Jessiman that his most productive road would be to follow the example of 38-year old star Brendan Shanahan. They want him to become a strong two-way presence; they want him to go to the net. Renney’s comments, made prior to the Rangers going out and signing Shanahan off of the Detroit roster, showed Shanahan’s spirit preceded the man himself.

"It’s pretty cool, that is why I was pretty pumped-up when they signed him," Jessiman, brightening, said. "It was really interesting, because I thought it was pretty cool the way they signed him about a week later. It’s a good message to me. Because that’s the guy they want there, and maybe I can sort of emulate what he is doing."

Wow, you're always so Desmond Tutu-y. This is refreshing

With more than a little elbow room on the Rangers shifting roster, Jessiman is determined to make that next step. A lot of that will have to do with, scoring, yes— he’s got the hands, that’s half the reason he was drafted in the first place. But it will have just as much to do this September, more than ever, with how much bother he gives opponents looking to put numbers up on the board as well.

As Wolf Pack GM and coach Jim Schoenfeld said at the start of last season: "You take his skill, his offensive instincts, and then you add the physicality to his game, and it makes him a tough guy to play against."

"When I was at Dartmouth (2002-05) I used my hands," Jessiman said. "In order to be that power forward, you have to use your body. Protect the puck, and do all that."

Jessiman gave up his senior year at Dartmouth to go pro last summer. And he’s glad he did.

"There are some guys, like Zach Parise (of the Devils, picked 17th in the 2003 draft) for example, who plays that role (as goal scorer) and continues to play that role," Jessiman said. "But even he had to change up his game a little bit (as a pro), in order to play in the NHL. And I think if (I) scored 50 goals, whatever, at Dartmouth, I would still have so much learning to do. The adjustment period, I think, will be easier this year because of the fact that I played pro last year. It's been really valuable."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cant wait to see him play this year, i think he will do very well. aba

9/1/08, 7:03 PM


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