2010 NHL free agency: Blackhawks sign former first round pick Hugh Jessiman

Thanks to a tidbit of information from SBN’s Oilers blog Copper And Blue, we’ve found out (via CapGeek) that former 2003 first round pick of the New York Rangers, Hugh Jessiman, has landed a one-year, two-way contract with the desperate for depth Chicago Blackhawks. Even more amazing than reading the name “Hugh Jessiman” was reading this factoid from Copper and Blue.

Should Jessiman play a game with the Blackhawks this season, the 2003 first rounders would be the first group since 1983 to all make it to the NHL. The first rounders of 1998 and 1989 are also only one player away, but there aren’t many folks still holding out hope for Michael Henrich and Jason Soules.

Jessiman’s path to infamy is one that is a painful one for Rangers fans. Jessiman was a Hollywood script waiting to be written for the Rangers. He was a local boy born in New York City and grew up a Rangers fan. He played college hockey at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and he was the Rangers top pick in the 2003 draft. Seemed like a slam dunk at the time that the Big Apple would be his and the Rangers return to glory would form around him. A funny thing happened on the way to Madison Square Garden, however.

After leaving Dartmouth, he joined the Rangers farm team in Hartford and struggled terribly, and was sent to the ECHL and the Charlotte Checkers to work things out there in two consecutive seasons. He did very well in Charlotte both times, but upon returning to Hartford his struggles returned. In 2008 he was traded to the Nashville Predators and stayed in AHL exile. This past season he scored 20 goals and had 28 assists for the Predators farm team in Milwaukee, his best AHL season since 2007-2008 when he also had 42 points.

For now, he’s the dubious answer to a trivia question and while some of the names from the first round of that 2003 draft may be more dubious than others, the fact remains that Jessiman is the only guy from that first round to never play a game in the NHL. Either the Blackhawks will have to end up on really hard financial times for Jessiman or he’ll have to have the training camp of a lifetime to crack the Blackhawks lineup.

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    The Buzzer: Shutouts for three, Dubnyk gets win No. 200

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    Players of the Night:

    Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins, Keith Kinkaid, New Jersey Devils and Curtis McElhinney, Toronto Maple Leafs: Where do we begin on the night of the shutout? Rask didn’t have a particularly busy night making 23 saves, but when you’re facing names like Kucherov and Stamkos, it’s always dangerous. Still, Rask kept rolling along. He is 27-3-2 in his past 32 starts. That’s just silly. … Kinkaid, meanwhile stopped 38 — including 19 in the first period — in a 3-0 win against the Kings for his fourth career shutout. … No Frederik Andersen for Toronto? No problem. McElhinney stepped in and pitched a 33-save performance as the Leafs down the Montreal Canadiens 4-0.

    Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues: The Blues defenseman scored twice in regulation and then assisted on Brayden Schenn‘s overtime winner to cap off a three-point night.

    Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild: While he didn’t get a shutout, Dubnyk did stop 30 of 31 en route to his 200th career NHL win. The win was also important for the Wild, who moved to within five points of the Winnipeg Jets for second place in the Central Division, and moved five points ahead of the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche for third place.

    Highlights of the Night:

    Filthy pass:

    First-goal celebrations are always the best:

    Voracek with a slick move in front:

    Save of the year candidate:

    Factoids of the Night:

    Home is where the wins are:

    A legend passes a legend:

    Believe in McJesus:

    Scary Scenes of the Night:


    Sabres 5, Blackhawks 3

    Oilers 4, Panthers 2

    Devils 3, Kings 0

    Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 0

    Bruins 3, Lightning 0

    Flyers 4, Hurricanes 2

    Blue Jackets 2, Senators 1

    Blue 4, Rangers 3 (OT)

    Wild 3, Coyotes 1

    Sharks 5, Canucks 3

    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

    Senators’ Ryan Dzingel drilled in the head with a puck (video)

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    We already saw one lacerated leg, and now we have a one-timer drilling a player in the back of the helmet.

    Saturday night hasn’t been so kind.

    Ottawa Senators forward Ryan Dzingel was forced to leave the game after some friendly fire against the Columbus Blue Jackets in a 2-1 loss.

    Dzingel was drilled in the back of the head from teammate Mike Hoffman‘s one-timer of the back of his helmet around the mid-way point of the third period.

    Dzingel remained down for a time but was able to skate off the ice with some assistance from Ottawa’s trainers.

    He did not return to the game.

    If you watch this closely, you will see Dzingel’s No. 8 on the back of his helmet fly off after contact with the puck.


    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

    Bruins’ David Backes suffers leg laceration in collision (video)


    A scary scene unfolded in the first period between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the visiting Boston Bruins on Saturday night.

    David Backes and Yanni Gourde came together in the Lightning crease, with Gourde’s skate appearing to cut Backes on the outside of his right leg.

    Backes was able to make his way to the Bruins bench on his own, but he was clutching the back of his leg before getting some help down the tunnel.

    Backes did not return to the game.

    The Bruins said that Backes suffered a laceration above his right knee, which required several stitches to close.

    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

    Dundon, Hurricanes suspend search for new GM: report


    The Carolina Hurricanes’ search for a general manager is on hiatus.

    Sportsnet’s John Shannon reported Saturday that the process of replacing former GM Ron Francis is being put on hold for the time being, citing that owner Tom Dundon needs more time.

    “Tom hasn’t had the time he needs to do face to face interviews and feels that waiting will pay off,” Shannon wrote in a tweet.

    Francis was removed from his post as GM on March 7 and “promoted” to a new role as president of hockey operations. There was only one catch: whoever replaced Francis would bypass the Hurricanes’ legend and report directly to Dundon.

    The search, thus far, hasn’t been going that well, with three potential targets already withdrawing any interest they were thought to have had.

    Part of that problem could be how hands-on Dundon appears to want to be. Part of it could just be timing. Fenton, for instance, could be on his way to a Stanley Cup ring this year in Nashville.

    Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman touched on the situation in a recent 31 Thoughts column.

    “I think what I’m looking for, is we have to be comfortable with each other. That’s the most important thing,” Dundon told Friedman when asked what he wants in a new GM. “I actually like to disagree and argue. I don’t want someone to come in and just do what I say, and I don’t want to make decisions. Someone to create a structure of how something is a good idea, and now we are going to get it done.”

    You can add Pittsburgh Penguins assistant GM Bill Guerin to the list:

    I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest that Dundon wanting his hands all over the team — including whatever the GM is doing — isn’t the best selling point.

    There’s some good, young talent on the Hurricanes for a new GM to come in and build around, but there’s also some dead weight, including what’s turned into a bad contract with goalie Scott Darling.

    No GM wants to play puppet for an owner.

    TSN’s Pierre LeBrun said the Hurricanes will suspend their search until the summer when a larger crop of candidates reveals itself.

    Still, you have to wonder who’ll be willing to take that plunge. Someone will, of course, but people haven’t exactly been lining up to fill the role.

    UPDATE: On Headlines on Saturday, Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported that the salary being offered to a prospective GM in Carolina is $400,000, to which he said he doesn’t see any GM taking as it’s too low. Friedman, meanwhile, believes the search for a new GM is not on a complete hiatus.

    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck