2006-09-29 / Sports

Finnish Forward Makes His Case For Rangers Roster Spot

By Joe McDonald Sports Columnist


New York Islanders Tom Poti, left, and Miroslav Satan of Slovakia, right, chase New York Rangers Jarkko Immonen of Finland in the second period of their pre-season NHL hockey game in New York, Monday, Sept. 25, 2006. (AP Photo/Jeff Zelevansky)New York Islanders Tom Poti, left, and Miroslav Satan of Slovakia, right, chase New York Rangers Jarkko Immonen of Finland in the second period of their pre-season NHL hockey game in New York, Monday, Sept. 25, 2006. (AP Photo/Jeff Zelevansky) NEW YORK - Coach Tom Renney has some tough decisions to make over the next week. As the roster dwindles down - there are now 36 left in camp - he's not just looking for the players who are performing the best in camp.

What Renney wants to do is also look at the younger players who might help this season but he is also cautious in not retarding their own growth.

"I really don't want to do the four minutes a night thing to a young guy," said Renney after his team filled with younger hopefuls lost to the Islanders, 5-2. "I don't think that's healthy at all. Maybe a more experienced player that could find himself in that position would be better. That remains to be seen. I am not interested in giving a young player minimum minutes just to be an NHL player. They have to do something special that they get 10 minutes at least."

There aren't any veterans that fit the bill the coach is looking for, so if he has to take a young player or two, he just might look at the ones who have a year of experience under their belts in professional hockey.

Forward Jarkko Immonen is one of those youngsters. After scoring 30 goals with 40 assists at Hartford last season, the 24 year-old was called up to New York and appeared in six games, tallying two goals and was on the team's taxi squad during the playoffs.

That experience may be enough to make him the front runner.

And following a goal and assist effort against the Isles - in which he was named the second star of the game - Immonen's performance did get Renney's attention.

"Jarkko had a good game," Renney said. "He has good timing; has very good sense. He's good in the faceoff circle. Whether he jumped out is open for debate, certainly he made an impression."

The Finnish forward though didn't seem happy. Mostly because of what was on the scoreboard at the end of a game.

"I want to score every time," he said. "But it wasn't a good game from us, so I don't feel so good."

Nevertheless, Immonen did say he was working out over the summer on his speed and power. He also skipped the trip to Puerto Rico in favor of working out in Hartford, which he said was good for him.

All this is adding into Renney's decision. "At the end of the day, it's something I have to think about and assess a few people," He said about not only Immonen, but players like Lauri Korpikoski as well. "Not only where they are, but where they need to be."

As for the Finnish forward, his only goal is to put himself out every time he takes the ice.

"I just want to play and work hard," Immonen said. "I just want to see what happens."

He's making his coach's job tough.

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