Nigel Williams

Williams The Younger

As we count down the final hours until the Rangers drop the puck with the Sabres in Buffalo, we focus in on the last handful of Blueshirt players we have yet to cover.

One of those final few is the subject of this Rangers Countdown profile, defensive prospect Nigel Williams

Player Profile
When the Rangers acquired Williams in the Summer of 2009, it looked like they easily got the better value of a deal that sent journeyman blueliner Brian Fahey to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for young blueliner Nigel Williams.

Williams had come up through the US developmental program, and his prospects – at least on paper, looked a lot more promising. As it turns out, the move was probably more about giving the youngster a shot at turning around his faltering career more than anything.

At 22, the Aurora, Illinois native looks more inclined to be a steady minor leaguer than a true NHL prospect, though he probably still has two more solid years to try and turn that around.

Things weren’t always so negative, as an 18 year old Williams changed his mind about playing for the University of Wisconsin and transferred to the Saginaw Spirit, making an immediate impact scoring in his four games and becoming the first Spirit defenseman to net a hat trick. He’d go on to total 17 goals and 19 assists in 47 games, while adding 92 penalty minutes.

In his second OHL season, Williams switched teams again, moving onto the Belleville Bulls as part of a trade that sent Saginaw’s leading scorer to Belleville. The Bulls would go on to make the playoffs and be knocked out in the Semifinals, and Williams would set career highs in assists (31) and points (46), but would fall short with 15 goals in 67 games.

Following the playoff run, the Avalanche signed to an NHL contract and placed in with their AHL affiliate where he registered 7 goals and 14 assists in 70 games during his pro rookie season…the following off-season the Avalanche traded him to New York, seemingly for little in return.

Speculation on the reason for the move seems to center around Williams’ work ethic and coachability, though little was made of him in his first year with the Pack.

Going into 2010-11, Williams will again start the season in Hartford. With so many defensive prospects in the system added to the team, he has slipped down the depth chart and will need to find a way to stand out from the crowd. Whether he can find a way to do that, remains to be seen.

2009-10 Statistics
Team: Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL)
Stats: 4 goals, 16 assists and 50 penalty minutes in 56 games

Team: Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL)
Stats: 5 goals, 20 assists and 42 penalty minutes in 60 games

Williams was likely well known by the Rangers scouting staff, having played with former prospects Tom Pyatt and Tomas Zaborsky, as well as current prospect Chris Chappell, for the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League.

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