Remember when Dan Girardi was an unheralded, undrafted, free agent nobody? Remember when he was playing ECHL hockey, then got an unnoticed promotion to the AHL and then an unlikely shot at the NHL? Yeah, that worked out pretty well for Mr Girardi didn’t it? Hope you’re enjoying that multimillion dollar contract Dan.
They’re don’t play the same position, aren’t the same stature, didn’t play in the same junior league and are at different stages of their careers but there’s some kind of potential parallel between Dan Girardi and the wonderfully named Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, aka JAM.
This season, in relative obscurity amid the Rangers impressive season, there is a little forward making waves in the AHL for the CT Whale who may be on his way to earning a shot at the NHL if he keeps his recent play going. Jonathan Audy-Marchessault has been an offensive surprise for the Whale this season – to the tune of 25 points in 29 games (good for the club lead) – and is getting better game by game.
Consider the AHL rookie, undrafted like Dan Girardi, began his first pro season scoreless in his five games as he got his feet wet and JAM is a point/game player for the majority of his first pro year. Impressive stuff. All this leads to the question of NHL/Rangers potential. Can eventually he make the jump?
Good friend of the blog, Brian Ring of the CT Whale, has seen JAM a lot this season. So what does Brian think of JAM, now and in the future?
I think the Girardi comparison is fair, as you’ve already noted they play different positions and are obviously of different build. They both, however, were maybe a bit overlooked before joining the professional ranks.
Audy-Marchessault has had an immediate impact on the Connecticut Whale, and as of this writing, he leads the team in scoring with 28 points on the season (10-18-28) in 31 games. With the call-ups to Hagelin and Mitchell, he has been getting the majority of his ice time on the top line with Kris Newbury and Andre Deveaux, who have also served as the primary power-play unit.
He couldn’t have landed in a better spot to debut as a professional, playing with former Quebec Remparts teammates Kelsey Tessier and Ryan Bourque. Tessier, a bilingual, not only helps JAM with his English but as a second-year pro knows the ropes as far as playing in the AHL and living in the Hartford area. Bourque is also surely a comfort as they go through the transition to the professional ranks together.
In his first extended time away from home, Audy-Marchessault has excelled and obviously adjusted quite well. He had his break-out game during a home-and-home set with one of the Whale’s most bitter rivals, the Springfield Falcons, on Oct. 22-23. He netted his first pro goal at Springfield, a third period equalizer, before tallying three points (1-2-3) the next night against the Falcons. The Whale won both games.
Since then, he’s been one of the most consistent Whale forwards, tallying 13 points in 11 November games and 10 points in 11 December games (two remain). He is third among rookie scorers in the AHL, eight points behind Norfolk’s Cory Conacher for the lead.
I don’t think there’s much question of whether or not he will make the jump to the next level or not. The ability and desire is certainly there and his tools are great, size hasn’t been an issue as he has withstood the punishment of nearly a half season without a problem. P.A. Parenteau has a size advantage over JAM, however Audy-Marchessault reminds me of him quite a bit. Look for him to add size and strength over the coming months as he continues to hone his professional game.
Following his quick rise to becoming a player relied upon for offense on a strong AHL club it seems JAM has a lot of potential and a promising future. It seems the Ranger scouting and player development may have found another gem.
Big thanks to Brian Ring for his contribution. For more updates on both JAM’s progress and the club as a whole be sure to check the Whale’s website as well twitter for as great insights from Brian and the Whale .