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

Jul 24, 2010, 11:12 PM EDT

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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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