The Rangers’ bottom six isn’t what it used to be, and that’s a problem. While it’s hard to pin the decline on just one player’s departure it doesn’t require too much of a logical leap to say that the Carl Hagelin trade, while necessary, hurt the team’s depth. While Emerson Etem’s potential was promising he was mishandled and failed to impress in the time he was allotted, leading up to the eventual trade for Nicklas Jensen.
Some fans may have been a bit disappointed with the return on Etem, given that Jensen too has failed to produce consistently in his professional career so far. Still, when looking at the Rangers’ bottom six, and the fact that they’re going to be right up against the cap yet again this season, the young Dane may be a helpful addition to the big club.
The book on Jensen is that he’s got some serious puckhandling skills and nice speed, but has failed to put it all together with any consistency. While the Rangers certainly don’t need inconsistency on the bottom two lines, Jensen’s kind of skill set, when it’s all clicking, could be what the Rangers need in terms of depth.
Jensen has shown marked improvement since his change of scenery, and while it’s too early to make any solid conclusions, his continued development could be of serious help to the Rangers in filling out their bottom six. Jensen posted 15 goals and 10 assists in 41 games with the Hartford Wolfpack, and so far has 4 goals and 2 assists in 6 games for his national team at the IIHF World Championship, including some pretty highlight reel goals that really show off what he’s capable of when he’s on.
It’s also worth noting that even if Jensen doesn’t make the team he can still be of use to the Rangers in potentially sweeting a package deal trade if the Rangers decide to move one of their bigger players sometime this summer. While he obviously wouldn’t be the main course in any trade, given the general understanding that the Rangers are going to be making some changes it doesn’t hurt to have developing assets in the event there’s a trade to be made.
It’s certainly too early to tell on Nicklas Jensen, but early results are promising and if he can keep I up and have a strong showing at camp he could certainly make an impact on the Rangers. There’s worse things in the world than having skilled, speedy forwards on the bottom six (as Hagelin showed), and especially given the Rangers cap situation they could use all the help they can get.