The New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks swapped young forward prospects on January 8th, as the Rangers sent Emerson Etem to the Canucks in exchange for Nicklas Jensen and a sixth round draft pick in 2017 in what is a change of scenery for both players involved – hoping a new opportunity with a new organization will provide a change of fate.
So far, the trade has worked wonders for Nicklas Jensen and the Hartford Wolf Pack as the Rangers’ AHL affiliate is 9-1 since Jensen’s addition to the lineup.
“Everything I had with Vancouver and Utica was great and I really appreciated the time I had there, but coming here is a new chance for me and I’m very excited about that,” Jensen said. “So far it’s pretty great, we have won [seven] games in a row which is huge for us right now the way we are in the standings.”
Jensen made an impact from the get-go, scoring a goal in his Wolf Pack debut one day after the trade.
“He’s been a real good addition,” Wolf Pack head coach Ken Gernander said of Jensen. “He plays a sound two-way game. You can see he has a good shot, but he also has some poise and seems to have a nose for the net. He’s been getting chances on a nightly basis, so we are really happy to have him. I think he does a lot as far as solidifying our lineup.”
While transitioning to a new organization and playing with new teammates can be hard to adapt to, it seems as though Jensen has almost fit seamlessly into the Wolf Pack’s lineup.
“It’s been a very easy transition for me,” Jensen said of coming to the Rangers organization. “The guys here, the staff and everyone in the organization have been great to me so far. It’s been nice and really easy to adapt.”
It also doesn’t hurt that Jensen seems to be a bit of a good luck charm for the Wolf Pack, who entered the first full week of the 2016 calendar year in seventh place out of eight teams in the Atlantic Division. They’ve won nine of 10 games since Jensen’s arrival and are in the mix with three other teams for the fourth and final playoff spot at the AHL All-Star break.
“The team has been battling the last [seven] games and we have gotten the results we wanted,” Jensen said of his new team’s recent success. “Sometimes you don’t get it, but right now it’s going our way and we have been working hard to get the results, so hopefully we can keep getting it in the future.”
Jensen had a three-game points streak (two goals, one assist) that included goals in back-to-back games come to an end in a game against Atlantic Division-leading Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this past Wednesday. He is starting to find chemistry with linemates Matt Lindblad and Marek Hrivik, the latter of which has points in seven of his last 10 games since Jensen joined the lineup.
“I really try to focus on my all-around game, but obviously producing offensively and getting that goal in my first game was nice – who wouldn’t take that – so hopefully I can help a little bit more offensively too coming into the next few games,” Jensen explained, adding, “That’s kind of my game too, to produce. This year has been a little tough with the scoring but hopefully it will turn around. I’m getting my chances and we just we have to keep it up. As a team right now, we are playing well.”
Jensen also admits he is trying to round out his game in all three zones to become a more complete player, something he will need to continue to do down the stretch with Hartford if he wants to continue to make a positive impact at the AHL level.
“It’s hard to score and he’s got a game that will translate to those big games later in the season or hopefully in a playoff situation,” Gernander said of his new forward addition. “He can use his size, he’s an intuitive guy. Those types of guys are harder to shut down and seem to find ways to score regardless of the situation.”
All in all, Jensen looks forward to his new opportunity with the New York Rangers organization and a new chance to work his way into the NHL on a more permanent basis, as the former first round pick appeared in just 24 NHL games in three-and-a-half years with the Vancouver Canucks organization.
“I’m really looking forward to my future here with the Rangers organization, and hopefully one day be a Ranger.”
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