Rangers fans - thanks for submitting your questions to forward Dwight Helminen. The 6-0, 200-pound Michigan native is currently participating in the club's Prospect Development Camp in Calgary, Alberta.
Helminen was acquired by the Rangers from the Edmonton Oilers on March 3, 2004, along with a 2004 second round draft choice and goaltender Stephen Valiquette in exchange for Petr Nedved and Jussi Markkanen. The forward skated in 41 games with the University of Michigan Wolverines of Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) in 2003-04, registering 17 goals and 11 assists for 28 points, a along with four penalty minutes, en route to being named the CCHA Defensive Player of the Year.
Over the past three seasons at Michigan, Helminen appeared in 119 career games, tallying 44 goals and 35 assists for 79 points, along with 48 penalty minutes.
Helminen Bio / Stats >>Rangers Land Helminen, Valiquette, Pick from Oilers >>
- 3/3/04Rangers Sign Helminen to a Professional Contract >>
_______________________________Q: What is your opinion of the Development Camp in Calgary? How has it gone for you so far?
DH: It's going really well so far. The coaches and trainers have done a good job of mixing things up every day and throwing new things at us. It's been really good for me to work with the different coaches. Last week we had Ryan McGill with us and the week before it was Nick Fotiu. This week Perry Pearn has been on the ice. It's a good chance for me to see what these guys are like, what kind of drills they run and what they expect from us on the ice.
__________Q: Aside from playing hockey and signing a contract with the Rangers, what else have you been doing this summer?
- Robert S.
DH: I've been working out a lot and doing a lot of hockey-related stuff. I also like to fish in the summer, so I've been out there a lot as well. It's something I really enjoy.
__________Q: Who are some of the strongest players in the Calgary Camp? Name a couple of guys who have challenged you on the ice.
DH: Well, I'd say Hugh Jessiman is one of those players. He's a big boy and a strong player. Another guy would be Thomas Pock. He goes out and works hard every day. He's a defenseman so he's one of the guys that I've been going up against a lot and he has impressed me as well. I'd say for me, those are the two toughest guys to play against so far.
__________Q: Dwight ... does the fact that the Rangers are rebuilding, and many key positions will be open affect how you view and approach the upcoming Training Camp in any different way? Can you talk about your approach to the Camp? Good luck to you and I hope to see you as a core element of the Rangers future.
DH: I look at that as a good opportunity for a guy like myself. I just want to go out there and show them (Rangers management) that I can compete at the next level and show them that I'm big enough and strong enough to work and play at the NHL level.
__________Q: Hi DH - One of the best college hockey games I ever went to was during your freshman year against MSU. You tied it up with six minutes to go in the game to secure a 1-1 tie. Was it tough leaving the University of Michigan behind for the NHL?
DH: It was an extremely tough decision. It took me a while to make it after going through all of the pros and cons. I talked to numerous different people about the decision. Probably the toughest part of the decision was leaving behind the guys on the team and the relationships we have developed. I'm sure I'll see a lot of the guys at some point down the line, but I won't be there with them this next year. I think that's going to be the hardest part for me.
__________Q: How does it feel to be reunited with former Wolverine and ex-linemate Jed Ortmeyer in the Rangers organization and knowing that in the future, Al Montoya will be the goalie to backstop your team? Good luck in training camp!
DH: It's pretty neat. It's not too often that guys are reunited after playing together earlier in their careers. I think it will be nice to have someone there in Jed that I know very well and help show you the ropes. And I'll hopefully be able to do the same when Montoya decides he's ready for New York. I'm looking forward to it.
__________Q: In what area of the game do you think you would like to improve, and in what areas do you think are your strongest? Thanks and best of luck in the future.
DH: Some areas that I feel I need to improve are my overall strength and my release. Being a smaller player, I know I'll need to get stronger. Also, at the next level, the goaltenders are bigger and quicker and I'd like to work on my release. I'd say the strongest part to my game is my skating. I think it will be one of the biggest things I will need to be able to compete at the next level.
__________Q: What are your goals for next season?
DH: I want to go out there and play hard ... I'm not sure what the NHL is going to look like next season ... but obviously my goal is to play some games with the Rangers. I want to get stronger and keep improving my game so I can be effective as a professional.
__________Q: Hey Dwight - I've read a lot about your defensive and penalty killing proficiencies. I have heard comparisons to John Madden and Todd Marchant. What role do you think you will play for the Rangers in the future? Also what player do you most compare your style of play too?
- Nick C.
DH: The player that I model myself after would probably be Todd Marchant. We have similar styles of play. He's a good skater and I also see myself as a checking center that can contribute offensively. I also see myself as a penalty killer who skates and works hard every day. At the end of the night, I know I've had a good game if the opponent's top players have been kept off the scoreboard.