Tag: Hugh Jessiman

Hugh Jessiman

Hugh Jessiman: Regrets? He’s had a few


It’s been a long, strange, and often difficult trip for former 2003 first-round pick Hugh Jessiman.

When the former 12th overall pick finally played in a couple games for the Florida Panthers in 2011, he was the last player from the first round of the 2003 draft to make his NHL debut, just eight years after being picked by the New York Rangers.

Now he’s with the Ottawa Senators organization trying to make things happen in Binghamton. Thinking back on how his pro career started, he says he’d have done things a little differently.

“When you’re young you’re inexperienced. You live and you learn from your mistakes. It sounds cliché but it’s so true,” Jessiman says. “I don’t blame anybody, I always look in the mirror. But, as a veteran now, I try to be the guy to help out the rookies now. I try to be a good guy for us.”

So far this year with the Binghamton Senators, Jessiman has four goals and four assists in 20 games. The night I saw him was a three-point effort (1g, 2a) in a 6-1 win over Portland.

He says if he had a chance to do his time at Dartmouth all over again, he would’ve thought a bit more about when to go pro.

“I think if I were to do that decision again, I would’ve stayed. I came off an injury and turned pro. I don’t know what the thinking was behind that. Obviously there was a lot of pressure from New York. A lot of pressure. You want to make the organization happy. I think coming off an injury and  not giving myself enough time, I think that’s something I would do over.”

That injury held him to just 12 games with one goal and one assist during his junior year at Dartmouth. After that, he decided to turn pro. Was it pressure from the Rangers or from himself that made him jump?

“It was a little bit of both. I think a lot of those guys [in the 2003 draft] left after two years of school. I decided to stay for that third year and really dominate,” Jessiman explains.

“The Parises the Vaneks, they really dominated that second year [of college]. I really wanted to have a year like that and then I go get injured in the fourth game of the year. You’re done. After that, I think at that point it was more pressure from me. So, like I said, it’s no one’s fault. I feel fortunate I got drafted by my home team and now… Here we are.”

He’s still a big guy with a big body, he’s 6’6″ 220 after all, and he hopes that when the lockout ends he’ll get a chance to show he can be a contributor. Now that he’s 28 years-old and with his eighth organization, the time for him to prove himself is right now… If it hasn’t already passed him by.

Ottawa inks noted draft bust Hugh Jessiman

Hugh Jessiman

The Ottawa Senators have agreed on a one-year, two-way deal with 28-year-old journeyman Hugh Jessiman.

Jessiman — a 6-foot-6, 231-pound forward nicknamed “Huge Specimen” (get it?) — split last season between the American Hockey League’s Lake Erie Monsters and the Abbotsford Heat, recording 27 goals and 17 assists for 44 points in 67 games.

He’s appeared in two NHL contests, both with Florida.

Wondering why PHT is profiling the two-way contract of a career minor-leaguer? Well, it’s because Jessiman is not your typical career minor-leaguer.

He was taken 12th overall at the 2003 NHL Entry Draft — a draft widely regarded as one of the best in league history.

Here’s what I wrote about the ’03 draft back in December, updated to reflect this year’s Cup finals:

The first round was loaded with stars. It boasts Stanley Cup winners (Marc-Andre Fleury, Eric Staal, Nathan Horton, Brent Seabrook, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Dustin Brown), guys that lost in the Cup Finals (Zach Parise, Braydon Coburn, Ryan Kesler, Steve Bernier, Jeff Tambellini) and a bunch of good-to-solid players: Thomas Vanek, Brent Burns, Milan Michalek, Ryan Suter, Dion Phaneuf, Andrei Kostitsyn, Brian Boyle and Eric Fehr*.

But what sets the 2003 Draft apart is its depth. Let’s go round by round.

Round 2: Shea Weber, Patrice Bergeron, David Backes, Loui Eriksson, Matt Carle, Corey Crawford, Jimmy Howard, Maxim Lapierre, Kevin Klein, BJ Crombeen.

Round 3: Clarke MacArthur, Dan Carcillo, Ryan O’Byrne, Colin Fraser.

Round 4: Paul Bissonnette, Jan Hejda, Kyle Quincey, Corey Potter, Philippe Dupuis.

Round 5: Lee Stempniak, Brad Richardson.

Round 6: Marc Methot, Mark Flood, Drew Miller, Bruno Gervais.

Round 7 : Joe Pavelski, Kyle Brodziak.

Round 8: Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, Shane O’Brien.

Round 9 (and this is kinda nuts): Matt Moulson, Jaroslav Halak, Brian Elliott, David Jones, Tanner Glass, Chris Porter.

In conclusion, pretty solid draft.

Jessiman was part of the small first-round bust group that included Nik Zherdev (No. 5 overall), Robert Nilsson (15), Marc-Antoine Pouliot (22), Tambellini (27) and Shawn Belle (30).

* — As pointed out in the comments section, Fehr could be considered a bust.

Finally, 2003 first round pick Hugh Jessiman will make his NHL debut

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It’s taken eight years but after today, we can finally say that everyone taken in the first round of the 2003 NHL draft have played in the NHL. George Richards from On Frozen Pond reports this afternoon, the Florida Panthers have recalled former 12th overall selection of the New York Rangers Hugh Jessiman to play tonight.

Jessiman is the last player from the first round of the 2003 NHL draft to play in the NHL. It’s the first draft since the 1983 draft to have each of the players taken in the first round to all play in the NHL. Jessiman, however, comes with an unfortunate distinction. Being a New York City kid drafted by the New York Rangers, he was put on a pedestal almost immediately by the Rangers. The “local boy makes good” story is sometimes too good to resist.

Instead, Jessiman struggled mightily after leaving Dartmouth College two and a half seasons into playing there. He went to the Rangers farm teams in the ECHL and AHL and stayed there for good before being moved to the Predators in a minor league deal. Jessiman then signed with Chicago in the off-season and was involved in the trade that sent Michal Frolik from Florida to Chicago. Now, he finally gets to suit up in an NHL game.

Being the last first round pick to play from that 2003 draft shouldn’t be much of an insult as that draft was loaded with tremendous talent. Marc-Andre Fleury was the top pick and was followed by the likes of Nathan Horton, Jeff Carter, Dion Phaneuf, Thomas Vanek, Ryan Suter, and Eric Staal. All of those guys were taken before Jessiman at 12th overall. Of course, it’s who was taken after him that gets Rangers fans to throw a fit.

Kings captain Dustin Brown was taken with the 13th pick. Chicago’s Brent Seabrook went with the next choice. Zach Parise went five picks after Jessiman to the Devils. Ryan Getzlaf went 19th overall to Anaheim and the Ducks got Corey Perry 28th overall as well. Ryan Kesler went 23rd overall to Vancouver. Think of where the Rangers might be with any of those players and you can understand why Rangers fans might be a bit upset with GM Glen Sather still to this day for going for the good story pick in Jessiman. We won’t even get into how Loui Eriksson and Shea Weber went in the second round of that draft.

Making things a bit more awkward for Jessiman is that he’s the last of three Dartmouth College players taken in that 2003 draft to make it to the NHL even in spite of being taken in the first round. Lee Stempniak currently of the Coyotes went in the fifth round 148th overall to St. Louis while Vancouver’s Tanner Glass went 265th overall in the ninth round to Florida. That’s not taking into account other Dartmouth players who have also gotten the call ahead of Jessiman since then in Pittsburgh’s Ben Lovejoy and Nick Johnson, Colorado’s David Jones and T.J. Galiardi, and Montreal’s J.T. Wyman. Even Atlanta’s Grant Lewis has played in one NHL game before Jessiman.

All that aside, it’s been a long time coming for the once highly touted prospect and while he’s not highly touted anymore and a long time removed from his finest days as a member of the Dartmouth Big Green, it’s a bit of a credit to him for staying with it so long to end up in a situation with the Panthers where they’ve got such a need for forward help they can call on him to try and help out. Let the jokes end now about Jessiman, today is his day.