by Denis Savage
In today’s first of many feature articles on the prospects of the New York Rangers I put Jamie Lundmark under the microscope. 6’0″, 180lbs., and at the tender age of 20 perched as one of our top prospects is this Edmonton, Alberta native. Playing center and obtained with the ninth pick overall in the 1st round of the 1999 draft (Rangers second choice that fateful day) Jamie possesses above average speed who maintains his balance and agility. Most recently playing with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL his progress has come along more slowly than some of us had hoped for.
The setback, a broken thumb in his second year in junior which limited him to 37 games for the and a holdout from Moose Jaw in his third year which held off the start of his season til October 27th.
|Will Lundmark be the next Rangers superstar?
Of course not wanting to show any rust he assisted on the first goal of the game just 14 seconds into the contest contributing a goal the very next night. Playing with fellow Ranger prospect Barrett Heisten for the Thunderbirds Lundmark wearing #21 managed to put up 77 points in 52 games.
He has pinpoint passing, great vision and is tough to knock off the puck. Currently he is being groomed for the #1 center position, but will most likely enter the NHL as the proclaimed #2 behind Nedved. At 20 he still needs to continue to grow into his body. He should have strong linemates upon his arrival to New York so the fuss over whether he is the true #1 or #2 is a bit irrelevant at this point. One of the most impressive aspects of his game is Lundmarks willingness to commit to defense. How is that possible you ask given his offensive numbers? Why not ask Stevey Yzerman the same question, as Lundmark seems to get many comparisons to the future Hall of Famer. Being responsible on both ends of the ice is one example of how Jamie is a true leader and is the most likely candidate to take over the Captaincy of the Rangers down the road.
Where does Jamie Lundmark fit into our plans this year? Depends on how strong a camp he has. He has shown progress from his first camp to his second, and expect him to do the same this year. Will he make the team, honestly he is being setup for success. He has the potential to make the team this year yet I anticipate he will start the season in Hartford being the first line center he is being groomed for. Having Coach Paddock (still thankful he is with us) to guide him should benefit his growth.
Let us not forget he is a 20-year-old man and the tools he will need to compete can be further embedded into his head as he continues to learn from a NHL style of play and not the barrage of offense shown in the WHL. Plus he may very well end up playing with his future linemates down there growing in tandem with each other. What better way to grow together with quality minutes at even strength and on the power play units with linemates that may last a number of years. I do expect him to be called up to the big squad at some point if because of injury or trade.
With the known slots of center taken up this year by Nedved. Messier, and York we cannot bring up Jamie and have him sit on the fourth line with no quality ice time. Looking to next year with Messier and his pending retirement plans it will make more sense to have him begin the year 2002 on the Rangers. Then he will be poised to take the NHL by storm.