In the midst of the New York Rangers interesting past few weeks (good, then bad, then healthy, then confusion) Jimmy Vesey’s massive struggles of late have been somewhat overlooked. The NCAA rookie forward (who still does have 11 goals to his name) has seen both his production and shot generation grind to a halt the past few weeks.
Some call it a slump. Others choose to use this as an opportunity to say he’s not very good. Most, thankfully, seem to realize it might be the first thing and another thing: Fatigue.
No, not fatigue in the sense that he’s out of shape, but rather not used to the sheer number of games he’s playing (let alone the level of competition). In his four years at Harvard Vesey never played more then 37 games. With the Rangers he’s already reached 48 games this year, and has admitted that he does feel like he’s hit a wall.
Alain Vigneault has elected Vesey play fourth line duty, a role he’s not really suited for even with the Rangers explosive forward corps. This isn’t to absolve Vesey from struggling (which is absolutely happening) but rather to simply point out that it’s not totally surprising he’s not scoring as much with Jesper Fast, Oscar Lindberg, Brandon Pirri or Matt Puempel as his partners.
Still, the struggle is real. Vesey has taken five shots in his past 10 games. To put that in perspective, he had 62 shots his first 38 games. The difference? 0.5 shots per game the past 10 games and 1.6 shots a game his first 38 — I tried to separate what his body is used to playing to where he’s crossed the line.
Kevin Hayes didn’t hit too much of a rookie wall his first year on Broadway, although he also had a stretch in the middle of the season where he struggled. Players who come from the NCAA ranks do run into this issue often, so it’s not like this is coming out of the blue.
While he’s been fully against doing it on the defensive end, it might do Vignesult some good to cycle Vesey in and out of the lineup a bit for rest purposes. I’d give him the first few games post All-Star break (where he’s had a chance to rest and recover) to see if that helped, but if not he should be rested on and off for the next month or so. I’m talking a game off every third game — a play two then rest one type of thing.
The Rangers will, once Jesper Fast returns from injury, have a body that’s going to have to be sitting while healthy every night. I made a case that Pirri should be sitting, but rotating him in and out with Vesey might do everyone a load of good.
Hopefully Vesey explodes out of the gate and we don’t have to worry about this moving forward. But in the event that doesn’t happen, Vigneault might make his rookie more effective by giving him a chance to breathe.