The Rangers moved Emerson Etem for Nicklas Jensen and a sixth-round-pick early in the new year; Jensen reported straight to the Rangers AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack. Etem was brought in this off-season as part of the trade that sent Carl Hagelin to Anaheim; the hope was that he could both contribute now, and continue to evolve as part of the Rangers future, but despite his efforts, he never found chemistry with the Rangers, resulting in his move.
Jensen was drafted 29th overall in the 2011 Entry Draft, and has been viewed as an offensive player with great size, and ability (6’3″ 203 Ibs). He was in the same situation in Vancouver that Etem found himself in New York, as players with loads of promise, but very little consistency. The good news for the Rangers is that Jensen is still only 22-years-old, and if he does get it together, he could find himself pushing for a spot in New York in the future.
Shooting for the Moon
Jensen’s best attribute is his offensive game. He sees the ice well, passes well, and has a really hard shot that he can place under pressure. The hope in Vancouver was that Jensen could evolve into a reliable power forward, but he never found the consistency that he needed. If you look at Jensen’s numbers throughout his life, he’s never been the kind of player to post whopping totals, but he does possess upper echelon skill, which is what got him drafted so high. When Jensen is on his game, he’s getting to the middle of the ice, and putting himself in a position to get his heavy shot off. He’s the kind of player that doesn’t need much room to tuck the puck into tight spaces. Another bonus with Jensen is that he’s big, and fast; so he is capable of pushing to play in the bottom six if things don’t work out as a scorer.
Jensen had shown flashes of skill and speed, but would see his game sputter off far to often. When he joined the Canucks in the 2013-2014 season, he had a stretch of three goals in four games; the issue was that he didn’t post another goal the rest of the season. Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton told Blueshirts United about Jensen, “Our scouts who have seen him recently thought he might benefit from another organization and another opportunity, and we see that a lot in hockey.”
Now this is certainly “a thing” in hockey. Sometimes guys get moved to a different place and their game just starts to click. The good news for Jensen is that the Rangers have done a solid job of getting the potential out of their prospects in recent years; (J.T. Miller, Oscar Lindberg, and Dylan McIlrath) so they might be able to get his game going in the right direction.
I see Nicklas Jensen as a Viktor Stalberg type player if he ever finds his path to the NHL. They both have great size, and sick skill, and should be able to move around the lineup. But first the Rangers have to help him tap into his potential. The organization has to decide how they will go forward with him, and develop him accordingly. I don’t think he gets called up this season, simply because he is new to the organization, and I think the Rangers will let him play in the AHL to try to get comfortable before moving him around. This makes sense for the Rangers, because Jensen gets to work on his game in the AHL, where Etem would have had to go through waivers, and likely would have been claimed.
Now I’m not going to say that the Rangers caught the big fish, but I will say that this player has the potential to provide this organization some much-needed depth.
On a separate note, Jensen had a classy goodbye to his former club.
From Nicklas Jensen: pic.twitter.com/Xf3WdJ46Us
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) January 9, 2016