The Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes are set to begin this coming Monday, August 15th. That’s the day Vesey officially fulfills the loophole status and becomes a free agent.
There’s a few differences than normal free agency, though. The biggest of which is that every team is on the same level in terms of financial investment. Vesey is going to get the same contact from every single team, so there’s no real financial edge.
This is also part of the reason why he’s so coveted. It’s not just the fact that Vesey is young talent, but he’s cheap young talent. On a team like the Rangers, who are pressing their faces up against the cap ceiling, guys like Vesey are vital to the future.
There’s some good news, though. Jeff Gorton and company made some really good moves this offseason in terms of the forwards, none more important than convincing Pavel Buchnevich to join the Rangers ranks in North America. Add that in with the Derick Brassard trade (and Mika Zabinejad acquisition), the savvy free agent signings at forward and keeping all their RFAs without trouble and you have a good, solid forward group.
Thinking about the top nine, the Rangers do have talent at almost every position. Derek Stepan, Zabinejad and Hayes make a really solid, young pillar down the middle. Add guys like Chris Kreider, Miller, Mats Zuccarello, Buchnevich and Rick Nash on the wings and you’ve got yourself a really good offensive option at the top.
In that sense, the Rangers have shifted away from needing Vesey to wanting him.
Don’t get me wrong, the Rangers can use as much young talent as they can get. Vesey, by all accounts, is another one of those Kevin Hayes-like players who comes out of the college ranks and is more than capable of contributing right away. A former third round pick of the Predators, Vesey notched 46 points in 33 games for Harvard. With 24 goals, he’s the perfect blend of size, skill and finishing.
Adding more players like that can’t be a bad thing. As good as you think Buchnevich will be, expecting him to light the world on fire this year is setting him up for failure. I do expect guys like Kreider, Miller, Hayes and Zibanejad to take big steps up, but adding a guy like Vesey only gives the team more options which makes them better by default.
With all that said, it’s hard to see the Rangers being very high on his list. Some teams have been leaked as being on Vesey’s shortlist, and to this point the Rangers haven’t been named publicly as one of them. That doesn’t mean they’re not on it (some teams still remain a mystery) but even if they are competition is going to be stiff.
We’ve had arguments in this space about whether or not Alain Vigneault’s treatment of younger players is a deterrent to getting a guy like Vesey. I think it plays a role, while many argue they think it does nothing at all.
Either way, the Rangers are long shots to bring Vesey to Broadway. I honestly think Vesey was a main priority — not to say they’ve given up on hoping to acquire him — but with all the offseason moves he’s probably now looked at as a luxury.