After weeks of relative silence, the rumor mill will begin churning again this week as August 15 approaches. That’s the day Jimmy Vesey officially becomes an unrestricted free agent.
The heralded Harvard alum is essentially this year’s version of Kevin Hayes and will draw league-wide interest after spurning first Nashville, then Buffalo after the Sabres traded for his rights prior to the draft.
By most accounts, Vesey is an NHL-ready prospect that could instantly step into an NHL lineup and has legitimate top-six potential.
It remains somewhat unlikely that Vesey joins New York, but the Blueshirts are believed to be on Vesey’s anticipated short list of potential homes alongside the Sabres, Toronto, Boston and Chicago. Each of those clubs has its own advantage that could help sway Vesey.
The Sabres have Vesey’s close friend, Jack Eichel – and the two Massachusetts natives have been skating together all summer.
The Maple Leafs are a team on the rise with young talent in spades and they have two Veseys already in the organization – Vesey’s brother Nolan, who was drafted in 2014, and Jimmy’s father, who serves as a scout.
The Bruins are Vesey’s hometown club and childhood favorite team – joining them would allow Vesey to remain close to his beloved Harvard buddies and family.
And the Blackhawks have recently emerged as a legitimate option – because I guess for some reason it might be appealing to play for the league’s most dominant franchise.
This is a case where money is basically irrelevant. Vesey is such a hot commodity because he’s a strong prospect and he’s cost-controlled. Every team will offer essentially the same package of a $925k base salary plus performance bonuses, so it’s not as if forking over a fat wad of cash will seal the deal here. This is all about fit and Vesey’s personal preference.
If the Blueshirts are lucky enough to land Vesey, it would only further strengthen their enviable core of young forwards. Though it feels like many of them have been in blue for years now, all of Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, Mika Zibanejad, Jesper Fast, Oscar Lindberg and Pavel Buchnevich are 26 years old or younger.
Adding Vesey to that group would give the Rangers a ton of options up front. They’d not only be equipped to trade from excess to help the blueline, but New York would be well set up to weather the departure of Rick Nash as a free agent two seasons from now.
And though the Rangers are frequently ranked as having one of the worst prospect pools in the league and none of those blossoming forwards is really considered among the game’s elite young talents, the group does collectively have plenty of potential.
Imagine a lineup like this:
(Gerbe, Jooris, Jensen, Glass)
The defense obviously still needs a ton of work and could hold that unit back from lighting the lamp as often as it could, but that’s the deepest, most talented offense the Blueshirts have had in years."What Jimmy Vesey would mean to the Rangers",