As the hot summer continues full of sunshine, humidity and thunderstorms, so does Vesey Watch. The hype surrounding the Harvard University four-year player who opted for free agency rather than signing with Nashville has been insane.
Consider that Jimmy Vesey is 23 already and never played professional. The former Predators’2012 third round pick developed well at Harvard over his final two years. In ’14-15, his 32 goals and 58 points paced the Crimson in the ECAC. His senior year, Vesey produced 24 goals and 22 assists totaling 46 points. That was good enough to win the Hobey Baker Award for top collegiate hockey player.
The odd part is Vesey beat out two better players. Kyle Connor put up 35 goals and 36 assists for 71 points at the University of Michigan. The difference being Connor did it as a 19-year old freshman after getting taken 17th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. Vesey also beat out goalie Thatcher Demko. A highly rated American netminder who won 27 games with a 1.88 goals-against-average, .935 save percentage and 10 shutouts in his junior year at Boston College. The 20-year old went 36th overall in the second round to the Canucks in 2014.
So, how good is Vesey? He scored 56 goals his final two seasons after totaling 24 prior to his junior year. He’s a left wing who is listed at 6-1, 195 pounds. Originally from North Reading, Massachusetts, he still hasn’t made up his mind on who he’s signing with. The Sabres parted with a third round pick in June just to get his rights. But it may have been a waste. There’s no guarantee he’ll sign with Buffalo, who probably has the most upside. Unless he chooses Toronto or goes to Pittsburgh or Chicago, he’d be better off with the Sabres.
In his second day of free agency, Vesey met with Blackhawks, Rangers and hometown Bruins after meeting with the Devils, Islanders, Leafs and Penguins. At some point, he’ll decide who has made the best sales pitch. Hopefully, it ends soon.
Honestly, between all the desperation tweets from our fans along with others, it’s become a joke. How many ‘experts’ have ever seen Vesey play? I just looked at some highlights of his Harvard reel. He definitely has some skill. A superb skater who can finish and set up teammates. However, his success came against college competition. How quickly he transitions to the pro style will determine what kind of career he’ll have.
How good will he be? I have no clue. I don’t pretend to be an expert and automatically pencil him in the top nine. Whenever one of these college free agents become available, the height of expectation can be unrealistic.
I’ve gotten tired of reading my timeline. When you have fans already talking about Vesey as if he’s already a Ranger, it’s brutal. How about waiting first before proclaiming a Ranger, Devil, Islander, etc? The Rangers don’t exactly have as much room as say the Devils with all their cap space. They already are bringing one top prospect into the mix in Russian Pavel Buchnevich. I would like to see what he can do in camp, which is still a way off due to the World Cup.
So, what will Vesey decide? Hopefully, he makes the right decision for him and his family. Whoever he chooses should be an ideal fit with the opportunity for good ice-time and the chance to grow. If I were him, I’d choose a rebuilding team. He’ll have a better chance. Whether it’s Buffalo, New Jersey or Toronto, those would be my choices if I were a young player who wants to play in the NHL.
I guess what it comes down to is I’m just not biased. The Rangers remain a win now team with Henrik Lundqvist getting older. They can’t afford to wait. Time is slipping away. The Pens and Hawks are obviously win now teams who have won recently. They have the last two Stanley Cups. Pittsburgh just re-signed Matt Cullen for another year at a cheap $1 million. After narrowly missing the postseason the last two years, Boston remains an option. But does Vesey want the pressure of playing at home?
Whatever happens, I’m fine with it. I just want the madness to end. When you even have celebrities who play other sports chiming in, it gets to be a little bit much. Leave the kid alone. Let him choose minus the hoopla.