The New York Rangers have traded 2003 first round pick Hugh Jessiman to the Nashville Predators for future considerations.
Rumors of his imminent departure started making the rounds in Hartford on Saturday, with his agent in attendance as he spent his second consecutive game in the press box as a healthy scratch. Last night he returned to the Wolf Pack line up, seemingly putting those rumors to rest. But with Glen Sather and a host of scouts in the house last night it would seem that it was perhaps his opportunity to try to make an impression on potential suitors. It wasn’t a particularly strong game for Hugh — or anyone else not named Miika Wiikman for that matter — but apparently he made enough of an impression to convince Nashville to wager “future considerations” for his services.
The lone 2003 first-rounder to have never played a game in the NHL, Jessiman suffered for the New York Rangers’ mistake of drafting him where they did (12th over all) throughout his time with the organization. A serious ankle injury, which caused him to miss most of his junior season at Dartmouth, and an unwise decision to leave college prematurely further stunted his development as a player. But the bottom line is, he never should have been drafted where he was to begin with, and that stigma wasn’t going to go away while he was part of the Rangers organization.
In truth, Jessiman is coming off his best professional season to date, in which he made the most progress of any of his previous years as a pro. If he continues to progress at the same pace this year, it’s not entirely unfeasible that he could end up as a role player in the NHL one day. It seems unlikely, but plenty of Hartford alumni (most recently, Dwight Helminen) have found homes in other organizations and eventually gotten a shot in the NHL. Regardless, seeing a first round pick on the fourth line was never going to be good enough for the demanding Ranger Faithful, and when you look at the Hartford roster, it becomes clear that there are numerous similar or better options for that role that won’t be forced to carry the same baggage.
By all accounts Jessiman was a good guy and a good teammate, and I wish him the best of luck in Milwaukee (or maybe — just maybe — in Nashville one day). For Jessiman’s comments on the trade, and his time in the Rangers organization, see Howlings.
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