The New York Rangers saw their compelling, albeit brief, playoff run come to an end last night, but with young talent like Bobby Sanguinetti on the horizon, the future looms bright in Manhattan. A 20-year-old defenseman who grew up rooting for the Rangers in Lumberton, New Jersey, Sanguinetti spent the 2009 season with the Hartford Wolf Pack, tallying six goals and 36 assists in 78 games. The 21st-overall pick in the 2006 draft, Sanguinetti was recalled by the Rangers on January 10, in a just-in-case scenario, but was returned to Hartford the following day without having seen his first NHL action. Widely regarded as the top blue line prospect in the organization, Sanguinetti should be skating on Madison Square Garden ice next season.
David Laurila: How would you describe your game?
Bobby Sanguinetti: Iíd say that Iím probably an offensive defenseman who has gotten better at the defensive side of the puck this year, my first year of pro. I think Iíve come a long way and ultimately the main goal is to be a good two-way defenseman who can chip in on the power play and be up the ice to create offensively. Iíd say Iím a good skater with good vision. Thatís about it.
DL: What type of offensive defenseman are you?
BS: I think Iím more of a shooter when it comes down to it. This year I obviously have more assists, but that just comes from playing with great players. That will come, I guess, as I get older and stronger, but right now Iíd say Iím probably a passer.
DL: As a defenseman, what defines a shooter?
BS: I think that when youíre up at the point, on the power play, youíre thinking shoot first. You try to get rebounds for the guys down low, who are battling in front of the net. I think thatís probably the biggest thing.
DL: Do you have a power slap shot from the point?
BS: No, Iím actually more of a quick release on the wrister to get it through with good traffic. Obviously, you need to let a slap shot go once in awhile, but Iíd say the wrister is my main thing.
DL: You mentioned working to get better defensively. What is the Rangers organization looking for from you?
BS: Just to learn something new every day, to get a mixture of that every shift Iím out there. Iím focusing on my defensive end, and when I get a chance to jump offensively, I do. You canít sacrifice what got you here, and for me that was my offensive game, but I just want to get better defensively. Thatís what I worked on this year.
DL: The decision to jump into a play, or to stay back, is instinctual. Does the organization want you to err on the side of caution or the side aggression?
BS: That has been kind of the main thing with me, to learn that. I have to trust my instincts on the offensive side of the puck. But itís more the battle level down low. Obviously, strengthÖto be strong every shift. Like you said, you have to trust your instincts. Thatís the main thing they want me to do.
DL: How does your defense partner impact your game?
BS: Iíve been playing with Corey Potter and he is real responsible on the ice. We play similar in that heís a good skater; he handles the puck and he has great vision. That makes it easier on me, as far as that goes, so itís been great.
DL: You have a lot of skills offensively. Why are you a defenseman?
BS: I donít know. I guess that, ever since I was younger, Iíve always played defense and I donít know anything else. If that comes up somedayÖif thatís what the Rangers want, itís obviously their decision. But Iíve really never played offense in my life, so it would be something new for me.
DL: Is there any one player on the Rangers blue line that youĎd compare your game to?
BS: Theyíve obviously got a bunch of offensive guys, with [Wade] Redden, [Dan] Girardi and Morris. Derek Morris, outside of him having a heavy slap shotÖI think we play similar, moving the puck up the ice and joining the rush. As far as defensivelyÖI just need to get better on both sides of the puck.
DL: What was your brief call-up like, especially considering that you didnĎt actually get an opportunity to play?
BS: Oh, it was awesome. Just to be around those players was great. The intensity they have just shows you what you have to work towards, and to get there thatís what you have to do. It was really exciting for me, although it would have been nice to play. It was a little frustrating, I guess you could say, not to get out there, because youíre getting real close to a dream come true. But itís just a matter of time, and getting better. So yeah, it was a tough one, in a way, but a good experience for me.
DL: Will the experience make it easier once you get back up there for real?
BS: Yeah, definitely. I learned a lot. As far as being nervous, you canít let your nerves take over. You have to just trust your instincts and that you can play, and that youíre there for a reason. So yeah, I think it really helped me a lot.
DL: How much adrenaline do you normally have out on the ice?
BS: Tons. When youíre out there, the game is so fastÖitís so fast-paced, and everybody is moving. I mean, you get out there and youíre fighting for a job and if youíre not playing well, somebody is going to take it from you. But Iím not like some guys who get too hyped up; I think thatís where the fights come from. Iím pretty calm when it comes to things like that.
DL: You see yourself doing any fighting in the NHL?
BS: I havenít had a fight in pro hockey yet, so weíll see. If it comes alongÖIím assuming someone will jump you down the line, because thatís how things go, but no, thatís not one of main things. But, like I said, a lot of it is adrenaline when youíre out there, with the game moving so fast, and you get a little fired up. If a guy comes up and asks you, and youíre into it and ready, you might have to answer the bell.
DL: How would you describe the Rangers system?
BS: Itís great. They develop a lot of young players, with guys like Marc Staal, Girardi, [Brandon] Dubinsky, [Ryan] Callahan. They have a lot of young players up there really producing, and that looks good on us. Weíve had a couple of good seasons here in Hartford, and moving up is something to look forward to.
DL: What about the system on the ice -- the style of play?
BS: I think that with the coaching change itís a lot more aggressive. John Tortorella really likes the guys being up the ice, defensively, and on the fore check real hard, so I think thatís a good fit for me.
DL: You grew up a Rangers fan. When you think New York Rangers history, what are the first things that come to mind?
BS: Obviously the Stanley Cup, when they won it in 1994. I mean, that was a big day for all Rangers fans and itís something theyíll probably never forget. It was really exciting for me. I got to go to the parade, even though I was just a little guy. To be a part of that was great, and hopefully Iíll be on the other side of it someday, helping to win it. Everybodyís goal is to play in the NHL, and make an impact, and win a Stanley Cup.
DL: To close, can you tell us something that most people probably donít know about Bobby Sanguinetti?
BS: There are a lot of different things about me, but one is that I was born paralyzed. That was my whole right arm. When I was born, my nerves were pinched, so there was a lot of restricted movement. Having to overcome that is something that has really helped me to persevere and become a better player.