Whatever Happened To: Nigel Dawes

We’re now a half-decade removed from the 2004-05 NHL Lockout, which cost owners, players and fans an entire year of NHL hockey. Since then, the New York Rangers have been one of the more successful NHL clubs in the league, qualifying for the playoffs in five of the first six seasons after the lockout, albeit just two playoff series victories.

In that time, many prospects with plenty of upside have come and gone from the Rangers. This series will look back at the players who didn’t quite work out here in New York, and where they are now.

Next up in the “Whatever Happened To?” series is shootout specialist and Marty Brodeur-dominating Nigel Dawes. 

Dawes was drafted by the Rangers in the fifth-round (149 overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, and debuted on Broadway in 2006-07, scoring one goal in eight games. He returned the following season in a limited role, but made the most of it, scoring 14 goals and 29 points in 61 games, including four goals and one shootout goal against Devils’ goaltender Brodeur. Classy Brodeur later called the shootout goal “lucky.”

After re-signing with the Rangers in July 2008, Dawes would have a sub-par season, scoring just 10 goals and 19 points in 52 games, most of which on the second and third lines. The poor performance led to Dawes being expendable, and he was traded, along with Petr Prucha and Dmitri Kalinin to the Phoenix Coyotes for Derek Morris. Dawes finished the season with two assists in 12 games in Arizona.

His time in Phoenix was short-lived, as the Coyotes waived the then 24-year-old, who was claimed by the Calgary Flames. Dawes had the best season of his career in 2009-10 with the Flames, scoring 14 goals and 32 points in 66 games. Dawes became a free agent July 1, and signed with the Atlanta Thrashers where he played nine games and registered one point. He was then traded, along with Brent Sopel, to the Montreal Canadiens in February 2011. He played four games and didn’t register a point.

In May 2011, Dawes headed across the pond, signing a one-year deal with Barys Astana of the KHL.

Dawes had  great promise when he came up in 2007, especially with his success against the Devils, which made him an instant fan favorite. He had great hands and offensive talents, but he could never put it all together and keep himself in the lineup. Once a coaching staff loses faith in your abilities to contribute on a nightly basis, the writing is on the wall.

I’m hoping the trip to the KHL is only for a year, and if he has a strong performance (albeit against lesser competition), he should no doubt find a home next season in the NHL, especially with his abilities in the shootout.

Follow Matt on Twitter @MattCalamiaTHW

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