When the New York Rangers landed Jimmy Vesey, they didn’t just create some really sour grapes in Buffalo, they upgraded their top-nine with an infusion of youth that cost them no assets outside of cap space.
This entire process did get hyped by the media, creating ridiculous expectations for the 23-year-old Harvard forward.
Expectations are a funny thing in sports. Usually they’re based around the player’s expected performance -- and more often than not the expectations are at a level the player will never reach.
In Vesey’s case it’s caused a different type of ripple.
Drafted NCAA free agents hitting the open market aren’t exactly every day happenings. When it does happen, generally every single NHL team swarms unless they’re told they won’t be considered. And why wouldn’t they? It’s a free player, good enough to get drafted, who will be restricted to an ELC for the next two years .
Some players draw more hype than other -- Kevin Hayes and Justin Schultz being the biggest names the past few years — but all of them are valuable for different reasons.
I have no idea what type of player Vesey is going to become. He might become a genuine first liner. He might bust out. He most likely will land somewhere between the two. For right now, though? He’s a top-nine player who makes the Rangers much better today than they were yesterday. In his mailbag Adam Herman said he’d put Vesey third on the Rangers prospect list. It’s a big deal.
There’s another factor that adds to the importance, though. You could easily make the argument this factor is the most important part: His salary.
Getting a top-nine player on an ELC is vital for teams pressed against the cap. The Rangers have two of those at forward now (with Pavel Buchnevich being the other) and that doesn’t even include Brady Skjei on defense. Those players help lessen the blow of the bad contracts on the back end (you know who I’m talking about) and they give the Rangers cost-controlled assets for future years as well.
Getting those players for nothing is an enormous coup. The Rangers didn’t even spend a draft pick on Vesey in the first place, so they got him like you’d get any free agent. That opportunity doesn’t come around very often, and to take advantage of it is a really big deal. Yes, New York does a big amount of recruiting on its own, but Jeff Gorton and company needed a competent plan to nab him, and they clearly executed it perfectly.
The dollar situation was why this entire situation was so hyped up from a blog/smarter media approach. Not because Vesey is going to be Wayne Gretzky. Not because Vesey is going to be the next coming, but because he’s a young talented player who is cost-controlled.
Regardless of what he becomes, Vesey is a very important part of this team. Not just because he’s a young talent, but because he’s cost controlled, too.
Due to a bet, I’m obligated to include an ode to Joe Mortali -- the only person alive who can guilt me into playing a round of golf the day of my best friend’s wedding, and then bailing on the round after eight holes.