Steven Loffredo The Hockey Writers
Nicklas Jensen Is Positioning Himself to Make the Rangers
Nicklas Jensen has had a terrific World Championship for Denmark thus far posting five goals and two assists in seven games played. With the New York Rangers due to make some changes to their roster, this off-season Jensen is doing a good job of pushing himself into consideration for a role with the NHL team next season. The 23-year-old Dane is still an RFA but won’t command too much money on a new contract which could make him an appealing option for a Rangers team with limited cap space.
The forward will likely be invited to Rangers’ training camp, and when he arrives he needs to continue to play with the quick hands and feet he’s displayed in this tournament. He may not be able to get into the team’s top six, but there will be room for him to compete to win a job as a bottom six player, that said Jensen still has a ton of work to do.
Jensen had fallen into a funny situation with the Vancouver Canucks where he would show flashes of his talent only to see his game slip back to mediocrity. Half way through the 2015-2016 campaign the New York Rangers traded their own inconsistent winger Emerson Etem to the Canucks for Jensen. New York knew that they were getting a player for tomorrow who had good upside and so far the new situation seems to be doing wonders for the young Dane.
He didn’t get any playing time in New York, but he did see his numbers jump in the AHL, which indicates that the breath of fresh air is paying off. He had only four goals with the Utica Comets in 27 games and after being traded he posted 15 goals in 41 games with the Wolfpack, and in March was named AHL player of the week.
AHL announces Hartford’s Nicklas Jensen is player of the week with four goals and three assists in three games for the Wolf Pack.
— Andrew Gross (@AGrossRecord) March 21, 2016
The Scoring Touch
Jensen was drafted in 2011 by the Canucks with the 29th pick in the draft, and the expectation was that he’d be a scoring threat at the NHL level as his great speed and vision are noted. For him to be producing at a point a game rate in a tournament like this indicates that he’s ready to take the next step in his career. He doesn’t look out of place in any zone and is playing an important role on a good team. The most important aspect of his game seems to be his confidence on offense, just have a look at the shootout goal where he pulls a slick move and scores.
Last season the Rangers were missing these kinds of soft hands on their lower lines and for Jensen to have the confidence to even attempt such a difficult move in a shootout speaks to how well he’s feeling the puck.
The Rangers are looking for players like Jensen. He’s fast, talented, young and affordable; all things that this team will need going forward. Of course, he’ll be competing with Pavel Buchnevich and several others for a job, so a roster spot on the 2016-2017 team is far from a lock. That said If he comes out in camp shows some skill and can finish some checks then he will have an excellent opportunity to win himself a gig on the fourth line where Dominic Moore, Viktor Stalberg, and maybe even Tanner Glass have an uncertain future with the club. The Rangers have done a great job of developing these types of players who have great tools but need direction, and at this point Jensen looks to be on the fast track to an NHL job.
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