The New York Rangers prized NCAA free agent has had a better start to the year than most even thought possible. Vesey has 10 goals and 17 points in 30 games — which puts him on a 46-point pace. There’s been a lot to love about Vesey, but also a few things he can work on.
Where Vesey runs into trouble has been when he pulls the puck into the zone and either tries to do too much himself or tries to make the perfect pass. Forcing passes into tight spaces has been a big issue for Vesey so far, although his ability to move the puck has been enticing at times.
Where Vesey has found success is where he, well, crashes the net. Vesey has been far more assertive in crashing the net of late, and it’s resulted in some dirty goals abnd prime chances. Known for his shot, Vesey has a nose for the net that’s helped him create some offense.
Let’s take a look at those moments.
We’ll start with his goal against the Islanders. The play is a little broken at first and Vesey — who is ironically inching towards the net at this point — is ready to shoot.
Things don’t go as planned, and the Islanders almost clear the zone. Rick Nash maintains possession and drives back into the zone where Vesey (circled) sees the transition and guns to the crease.
Nash brings it in and takes a shot. With him pulling all the attention, Vesey is able to slip in untouched and bury the rebound in the slot. This is a goal that comes from being in the right place at the right time, but he had to go to the net to be there in the first place.
The next example comes from Carolina, and it’s another example of Vesey creating a “right place at the right time” situation for himself.
The play starts with Nash (circled) moving the puck to Vesey at the point:
Vesey moves it to Brady Skjei who takes a shot through traffic. Nash and Vesey (now he’s circled) both drive to the net.
Nash (blue) collects the rebound and instead of shooting it outright (where the goalie has proper positioning to stop the shot) takes the opening in the defense to cross the crease. Vesey (green) sees Nash cross the slot and moves to the vacated area of the ice Nash left. Chris Kreider, by the way, deserves a big stick salute for tying up two defenders and screening the goalie here.
Nash’s shot somehow doesn’t go in (it’s stopped and pops out to Vesey -- AKA the path of the yellow line). Because Vesey got himself into the proper position around the net, he has an easy finish which he puts home for the game-winning goal. Right place at the right time? Check. But he had to get himself there for it to be effective.
The final example isn’t a goal, but still shows his smarts and ability to adjust to the play as it’s happening. The play starts with Ryan McDonagh bringing the puck into the zone, with Brandon Pirri on his left (both are circled in yellow) and Vesey in green.
Vesey needs to hold up to avoid being offside, and the stop in his stride guarantees he’s going to get caught by the trailing defender. So rather than force himself into the zone, he peels back and takes a new angle into the zone.
McDonagh’s shot gets stopped and the rebound comes out into the slot. Pirri (red circle) is well covered, allowing the puck to slip past both of them. The trailing defender gets caught puck watching, allowing Vesey (off camera) to fly towards the net following the green arrow.
Vesey breaks into the screen and fires a shot from the slot. He gets robbed, but the chance never happens without Vesey actually driving to the net/the slot.
The highlights from the Chicago game Tuesday night are minimal, otherwise I wanted to highlight two of his third period drives to the net that really stood out. Regardless, the above is a good example of what Vesey is doing that’s worked.
Hopefully there’s more where that came from.