David Quinn’s arrival last summer brought about a lot of speculation when it came to players he would help elevate to a new level who had previously been stifled under Alain Vigneault.
Jimmy Vesey’s name was never really mentioned ... at least at first. The media picked up on Vesey being a “college guy” and connecting the dots that Quinn — who is also a college guy — could get more out of him than the previous regime and elevate his game to the next level.
Others were more cautious. Vesey never had the underlying numbers to suggest he was a diamond in the rough. He looked like — and has been — a guy who could score 15 to 20 goals a year and put up around 35 points. This year he realized that potential to the fullest, putting up a 17-18-35 line in 81 games, but it came with a far more expansive role than he had previously received.
Vesey’s TOI jumped to more than 16 minutes this year, and more often than not he found himself in a top six role. He set a career-high with 1:41 on the power play and saw a whopping 1:18 on the penalty kill, although that shouldn’t be factored in to his offensive production.
And yet, even with the elevated role, more power play time, and better line mates, Vesey was still a 17-goal, 35-point guy. At 25 years old and without the benefit of any underlying analytics to say otherwise, it’s fair to say that this is what Vesey is, and that’s fine. Guys like Vesey are valuable on any team, and his contract ($2.275-million for two more years) is pretty spot on for that type of production. The issue is the Rangers have a lot of players who are ... well ... fine. Nothing special, and good depth options. Vesey and Ryan Strome probably don’t need to both be on the same team let alone the same line, and with the influx of talent coming on the wings, you might not need either of them. Those things matter, too.
Analytically, Vesey floated between “fine” and “abysmal.” He had a negative Corsi Rel (Rel stats are his number compared to the team average), Rel GF%, and was a bottom three players in Rel xGF%. He wasn’t the worst in any category by any stretch, but on a team that already had a very low average in all areas, it’s not exactly a vote of confidence, either.
That said, this is a grade based on the year and Vesey pretty much hit expectations in a vacuum. The problem, though, is with his elevated role, more was expected offensively. At even strength, Vesey saw the most time (90 minutes) with Brett Howden and Vladislav Namestnikov. However, he saw 79 minutes and 77 minutes with Kevin Hayes and Pavel Buchnevich, and Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad, respectively. He also had other, smaller stints, with Zibanejad and Buchnevich that add up to pretty significant ice time. That doesn’t even include time with Mats Zuccarello.
It’s safe to say Vesey was fine this year, even with the expectations being on the lower end. The good news is we did answer an important question with all his time playing with quality support: Is he what we thought, or is there another gear? Knowing that it’s the former will help as the team makes decisions this summer on who to keep and who to move on from.
Joe Grade: C
Banter Staff Average: C