02/14/10 Tampa Bay Lightning Vs New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. neil miller: Rangers Erik Christensen on the ice during the third period.
02/14/10 Tampa Bay Lightning Vs New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. neil miller: Rangers Erik Christensen on the ice during the third period.

Center Of Attention

Michael Del Zotto and the recently signed Tim Kennedy hit the ice for the first time today, joining seven other Rangers as the informal practices continue in the lead up to training camp on September 17th.

One player who is yet to hit the ice is center Erik Christensen, who resigned over the Summer to another shot at restarting his career with the Rangers.

Player Profile
Acquired in a waiver claim from the Anaheim Ducks last season, Erik Christensen was a cheap option to add some depth to a Rangers team that struggled to generate offense from anyone other than Marian Gaborik.

Coming off a serious shoulder injury, the 6-1 208 pound Edmonton native had struggled to get his offense going with the Ducks, appearing in nine games without registering a point and ending up on the bench as a healthy scratch. Glen Sather then picked him up off waivers and brought him to New York where he went a further eight games without registering a point before picking up a goal and an assist in a 2-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on New Year’s Eve.

With the pressure seemingly off, Christensen would go on to record 7 goals and 17 assists in his remaining 40 games, and finished the year as one of the better Ranger forwards.

Still, you have to wonder about the 27 year old, and his ability to convert his talent into productive scoring. In five seasons, he’s only managed to reach double figures in goals once – 18 goals in 2006-07 with the Penguins – and has put up more than thirty points just once.

He’s not much of a setup guy either, with a career high of just 21 assists set back in 2008-09 when he split the season between the Atlanta Thrashers and Anaheim Ducks.

Already on his fourth team, this year might be Christensen’s last to really make an impression and keep his NHL career going. Signed to a one year deal on the eve of free agency, Christensen will be looking to battle it out with the likes of Artem AnisimovTodd White and Kennedy for the chance to play on the power play and get second line minutes.

He also runs the risk of being relegated to the bench, to Hartford or perhaps sent off in a trade or via waivers, all of which may be options if his preseason and camp don’t go well.

While he’s likely never to be an impact player, Christensen did show flashes that would suggest that he’s capable of more than he’s shown, and with the right situation, line mates and coach, he may actually be able to hit the 20 goal mark. That said, the chances seem slim for that happening this year, and it appears more likely that he’ll be gone at the end of the season, if not before.

2009-10 Statistics
Team: Anaheim Ducks (NHL)
Stats: 0 goals, 0 assists and 2 penalty minutes in 9 games

Team: New York Rangers (NHL)
Stats: 8 goals, 18 assists and 24 penalty minutes in 49 games

Prediction
Team: New York Rangers (NHL)
Stats: 5 goals, 7 assists and 12 penalty minutes in 30 games

Fun Fact
His first two points of the season against the Hurricanes on New Years Day were the 99th and 100th points of his NHL career.

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