The NHL kicks off their 93rd season today with the Hurricanes and Wild doing facing off in the Finnish capital. We Ranger fans will have to wait until Saturday though to see our team in action.
Like the Rangers, the Wolf Pack will open their season on Saturday and the subject of this Rangers Countdown profile, Jeremy Williams, will be in the line-up.
26 year old Jeremy Williams is still looking to make a career in the NHL. After six seasons in the Toronto Maple Leafs system, and a seventh with the Red Wings, the former seventh round pick decided to see if a change of scenery might help kickstart his career.
The 6-0 195lb right wing has had a slow start to his career, appearing in just 31 NHL games over the past five seasons, and none last year. After scoring a goal in each of his first two appearances – one game cameos in 2005-06 and 2006-07, Williams caught the eye of colorful commentate Don Cherry.
Cherry berated the Leafs organization openly for not giving the kid a chance, something Toronto would finally do late in the 2007-08 season with the Leafs on the verge of finally starting the rebuilding process.
In his fifth pro season, Williams was called up for the February 27th match-up with the Panthers. The Leafs fell behind 2-0 in the first period, before Williams scored his third goal in three NHL games to start the comeback. Toronto would ultimately win the game 4-3 in the shootout, and Williams would go on to play 17 more games as Toronto failed to make the playoffs.
Used mostly as a fourth liner in that first real stint with the team, Williams managed just two goals in 18 games adding four minutes in penalties. Not surprisingly he would start the following season with the Marlies in the AHL.
After a good start to the year, Williams would again get a call-up in December, and promptly tallied five goals in his first six games, but getting double the ice time he did in his previous tour. He followed that stretch with four scoreless games, as the Leafs went through a rough 0-3-1 stretch, giving up 20 goals while scoring just 8. A one game call-up late in the season would be his last appearance for Toronto.
Last year he moved onto Detroit, but couldn’t move up the depth chart. He did manage to have a career year for the Griffins however, recording 32 goals and 31 assists.
Signing as a UFA with the Rangers, Williams is looking again to find a way to return to the big leagues, but is off to a relatively slow start. A couple of quiet preseason appearances saw him reassigned to Hartford where he’ll be counted on to be one of the veterans.
It’s possible he gets a call-up to the Rangers if injuries take their toll later in the season, but at this stage of his career, Williams look like a mentor for the younger guys than a serious contender for NHL honors.
Team: Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL)
Stats: 32 goals, 31 assists and 55 penalty minutes in 77 games
Team: Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL)
Stats: 25 goals, 30 assists and 68 penalty minutes in 70 games
Williams has made a habit of scoring in his first game after being called up to the NHL. He’s done it four times.