General Manager Glen Sather, along with Tom Renney and the rest of the Rangers scouting staff, were ecstatic to see Dartmouth power forward and New York native Hugh Jessiman fall into their laps at 12th overall in the 2003 draft. It came as a surprise to them, since they had Jessiman ranked as the fourth best player available in the entire draft. Either they overrated Jessiman or they saw something in him that nobody else had seen. Thus far, the pick has not apnned out as the Rangers would have hoped.
After Jessiman excelled as a freshman at Dartmouth College, earning ECAC Rookie of the Year honors, his play leveled off during the 2003-04 season. Then he was injured early into the 2004-05 season, and lost almost the whole year. Rather than return to Dartmouth, Jessiman decided to turn pro prior to the 2005-06 season. He then spent two seasons shuttling back and forth between the AHL and ECHL Rangers’ affiliates.
Jessiman spent this past summer getting stronger and taking boxing lessons. He was determined to make the Rangers this Fall, and had a very good Rangers’ training camp. However, after a couple of pre-season games, including an embarrassing bout with the Flyers’ prospect Steve Downie, Jessiman was sent to Hartford to start the season. He has been more productive this season than in the past, but he is still behind in development.
Hugh Jessiman’s calling card is his size. His skating is good for a big man and he has good hands. Additionally, over the past year, he has improved his work ethic and strength on the puck. But he still needs to polish his defensive zone coverage and on-ice decisions; additionally, he is lacking good balance, which has not improved over the last three seasons.
The Rangers have asked Jessiman to use his size to more physical advantage, i.e., play a north-south game and fight to defend his teammates. A gifted skill player, the big winger is more comfortable looking for the scoring opportunity and shooting the puck. Whether he can adapt to what is being asked of him as a role player is an open question, particularly given the short time frame. With less than one season left on his entry-level contract, Jessiman must make his mark now to remain with the Rangers' organization.