Hockey’s Future caught up with New York Rangers forward prospect Hugh Jessiman in Trenton, New Jersey, this past Friday night, following a game between the ECHL Charlotte Checkers and the Trenton Titans. Sent down to the team on Nov. 4 after seven games with the AHL Hartford Wolf Pack, the 21-year-old former first round pick (12th overall in 2003) has 9 points (6 goals, 3 assists) in 11 games with the Checkers. With some of the Rangers’ management in attendance, the rookie out of Dartmouth College was hoping to impress the powers that be. However, Jessiman went down early in the game with an injured knee, and did not return. Jessiman clearly was disappointed about the lost opportunity.
HF: You’ve been playing in Charlotte for about a month. How have you acclimated to playing at this level?
HJ: It’s been a very good experience for me. I’m getting a lot of chances to play and in many different situations here. I am scoring, but it’s not just the points, it’s getting into all those playing situations.
HF: What have you learned from playing here?
HJ: Since coming down here, I’ve gained a lot of confidence, and I feel that I am starting to get my game back. I am hoping that this injury to my knee won’t set me back.
HF: It looked like you were at the end of a shift and suddenly couldn’t put weight on your right leg; what happened?
HJ: It was kind of a freak thing that happened to my knee. I have a sprained MCL. One minute it was fine, and then I went to push off and it felt really sore. Then it was feeling fine again, and I went out for my next shift and the same thing happened. So I had to leave the game and won’t be playing for a while.
HF: Is there an estimation of how long you will be out?
HJ: It’s a grade one sprain, not really bad, just enough to keep from playing for a week or two. But I am looking to make the most of the time I am out, to strengthen my body, so that I am ready to pick up where I left off with my level of play.
HF: What are your goals for this season?
HJ: I just want to keep playing like I am playing, and let everything else take care of itself. I am trying to think the game a little better than I have in the past, particularly when I don’t have the puck. I am learning how to handle myself in all situations.
HF: How did not playing last year (due to injury) affect your performance to date?
HJ: It’s been a real battle to just get back to where I was. But playing on this level has really helped me to get everything back, especially the confidence that I had lost.
HF: What did you take away from your experience at the Rangers’ training camp this past fall?
HJ: I learned a lot from training camp. In fact, I did not realize how much I took away from it until the past month or so. Now that I have been here in Charlotte, I have had a lot of time to reflect on some of the ways that I could handle myself better. I think I have the skills to play with those guys, and I think that when training camp comes next year, I will be a little more prepared all around to play with the guys that are there. I will be ready to play in the way I know that I can.
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