With the free agency pool almost dry now, there is still one lucrative free agent that teams are trying to sign. Unsigned rookie Jimmy Vesey‘s rights currently belong to the the Buffalo Sabres, but they only have have until August 15th to sign him. After that time he will become a free agent. Starting next week, any team can offer him an entry-level contract. Given Vesey’s age; all entry-level contracts are two-way contracts and can only be worth up to $925,000 per season (plus bonuses) for two years.
The Sabres could potentially reach a deal with Vesey but his agent has stated that they will likely test free agency. The former Hobey Baker Award winner has given a shortlist of teams that he is willing to sign with. This list includes the Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, and New York Rangers. There are likely other teams that Vesey would consider but these are the known ones as of now.
It is clear that the Rangers need younger talent. According to the Rangers website, the team only has three left wingers; Rick Nash and Tanner Glass are both 32 years old and Chris Krieder is 25. Vesey could be one of the pieces to the Rangers last Stanley Cup run before Henrik Lundqvist is out of his prime. The only question is, how can Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton make this happen, and is it reasonable?
Could the New York Rangers really sign Jimmy Vesey?
One of the most important factors in where a player plays is how comfortable they will be. Vesey will likely want to go to a team that will utilise him to the best of his abilities. Vesey’s agent, Peter Fish, has said before that he is close to Gorton and that he is one of the first people he contacts when he has a new prospect. Fish also represented current Rangers director of player development Chris Drury during his NHL career.
A combination of these two and the Rangers current situation would certainly make New York a good option for Vesey. So how exactly would Vesey fit in the Rangers current scheme?
Vesey has always had a shoot-first mentality. Last season, Vesey was 11th in the NCAA in shots on goal last season and 10th in 2014. These high shot totals have allowed him to have a higher amount of goals than assists every season dating back to his junior year of high school.
Those extra shots from Vesey that the Rangers could get on net could really improve their shot differential from last season. The Rangers were ranked 23rd in the league last season with a -1.93 shot differential. The Rangers also ranked 26th in the league for shots per game. Vesey’s shoot-first mentality could be what the Rangers need to get back to their former selves
Other Options for Vesey
While the Rangers would be a great fit for Vesey, there are other factors that may sway Vesey otherwise. Buffalo is still doing everything they can to convince Vesey to stay. 2015 Hobey Baker winner Jack Eichel is playing with Vesey in the Foxboro Pro League this summer. With two weeks remaining in the regular season, Team Harlow is currently 5-2-1 and 3rd in the league standings. Team Harlow also currently has 54 goals in eight games which is also 3rd in the league. Vesey would likely have a top six role if he were to choose Buffalo. It would also allow him to build on the chemistry he has built with Eichel this summer.
If Vesey does not decide to stay in Buffalo, he may choose to go to his hometown of Boston. Vesey would almost certainly get a top six role immediately; whereas he would get a top nine role with the Rangers. In Boston Vesey may be able to slide into a top three spot, competing with David Pastrnak.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are also a serious contender. Vesey’s father works for the club as a regional scout. His brother is a prospect under contract to the club. How much impact will these family connections have?
With all the options ahead of Vesey, many different factors will come into play. While he would be a solid fit for the Rangers, other options for Vesey may be more lucrative for him. Boston would be the best option for Vesey due to the fact that is it close to home and he will get playing time early.