Patrick Rissmiller was waiting for a chance – to leave the New York Rangers and get an opportunity to return to the NHL.
The big forward – 6-foot-4, 215 pounds – got his wish in early August when he was traded to the Thrashers as part of the deal that sent Todd White to the Rangers.
“Excitement,” Rissmiller said Tuesday of his reaction to the trade. “ I’m very excited and looking forward to an opportunity. I’ve been hoping for something like this for a little bit. Since I signed in New York it didn’t go well. I’m looking forward to camp and getting a chance.”
Rissmiller left San Jose and signed a three-year deal worth $1 million a season with New York in 2008. He played just two games for the Rangers during the 2008-09 season. He spent the majority of the season at AHL Hartford.
He spent the entire 2009-10 season in the AHL, splitting time between Hartford and Grand Rapids. It was a long way from his days in San Jose, where he was spent four seasons. He played 79 games for the Sharks in both the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons. In that time he totaled 15 goals and 24 assists.
“I signed in New York two years ago and for whatever reason never really got a chance,” Rissmiller said. “I’ve was waiting and being patient but it’s not easy moving guys in this cap era. I was trying to be as patient as I could. When I got the news [of the trade to the Thrashers], I was very excited. I feel like a little kid.”
Rissmiller, who is from just outside Boston, knows the challenge ahead. There are a couple open roster spots at the forward position with several young players in the mix. Players like Angelo Esposito, Patrice Cormier, Alexander Burmistrov, Fredrik Petterson and Spencer Machacek have a similar opportunity as Rissmiller.
Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley said Tuesday that with the added NHL veterans on the roster – such as Fredrik Modin signed Monday – some of the young players are showing a bit more nervousness about what’s at stake once training camp begins next week.
“I’ve been in this spot a couple of times,” Rissmiller said. “Nothing is guaranteed. People in my spot, you’re always battling for a spot and I understand that and know there is competition. I’ve played enough at this level to know what to expect. I’ve played enough in the playoffs. I think I’m prepared. You always have competition. There are always younger guys and other guys that want to take your position. That’s the way the business works. I’m not going to be too concerned with what else is going on, just be ready to play and hopefully take advantage of the opportunity. …
“It’s been a couple of years since I’ve played at this level. I think it’s normal to have a little bit of nerves, a little bit on anxiousness. It won’t be in a bad way where it will affect my play. I think it will be helpful. When I was in California, I was always battling for a position. I will embrace the opportunity.”
In other news from Tuesday’s workout:
* I asked Dudley for an update on the contract negotiations with restricted free agent forward Niclas Bergfors. He reported that talks continue but “nothing pending.”
* A large contingent skated on Tuesday with several players making their debuts, including Johnny Oduya and Andrew Ladd. Jim Slater was at the IceForum and reports that he will be on the ice Wednesday. Here’s a list of the players that skated (in the order I wrote them down): Boris Valabik, Angelo Esposito, Chris Thorburn, Anthony Stewart, Arturs Kulda, Rich Peverley, Fredrik Peterrsson, Patrice Cormier, Tobias Enstrom, Zach Bogosian, Evander Kane, Akim Aliu, Johnny Oduya, Eric Boulton, Ben Eager, Andrew Ladd, Ron Hainsey, Chris Mason, Ondrej Pavelec, Spencer Macachek, Riley Holzapfel, Bryan Little, Alexander Burmistrov and Patrick Rissmiller.
* The story I wrote on new strength and conditioning coach Barry Brennan should be posted later today.
We are back at it tomorrow.