A good bridge deal for Vesey to prove himself

Today, the Rangers announced the re-signing of restricted free agent Jimmy Vesey. One of four players who filed for salary arbitration, he took a very fair bridge deal worth a reported average of $2.275 million through 2020.

In his first two years as a Blueshirt, Vesey has posted 33 goals and 22 assists totaling 55 points over 159 games. The production per season is a little underwhelming given the hype around the former Hobey Baker winner. However, former coach Alain Vigneault didn’t use him consistently. A problem that led to his dismissal.

Vesey spent four years at Harvard University playing in the ECAC. New coach David Quinn knows him well. Hopefully, that will translate to a more defined role for the 25-year old Boston, Massachusetts native. He’ll have the next two seasons to prove himself.

That means improving from a inconsistent scorer to a more dependable option. It’s not like the 6-3, 206 pound Vesey is afraid to use his size. He will drive the net for garbage goals. His speed is good enough to be a effective forechecker, who can become a 20-25 goalscorer. Now, it’s up to him.

More should be expected from Vesey under Quinn. We’ll see if he’s ready to fulfill expectations.

In related news, Cristoval “Boo” Nieves accepted his qualifying offer. He’ll compete for a spot on the fourth line. John Gilmour was also re-signed for another year. Whether he makes the roster on the blueline remains to be seen. He possesses great speed and a good shot, but needs work defensively. Not the biggest in stature, he’ll have a uphill climb in training camp. The competition should be fierce with vet Brendan Smith, Fredrik Claesson, Steven Kampfer, along with prospects Libor Hajek and Ryan Lindgren.

Steven Fogarty, Rob O’Gara also accepted their qualifiers. Both likely ticketed for Hartford.

The projected top four looks like restricted free agent Brady Skjei with Shattenkirk. Then Marc Staal with Neal Pionk. Afterwards, it becomes anyone’s guess. You’ll have Tony DeAngelo also vying for a regular spot in the top six with the aforementioned names. A long shot is Sean Day, who at only 20, enters his first pro season. He will probably need time in Hartford to develop.

As far as the remaining three unsigned Group II free agents, expect the Rangers to get something done with each soon. Skjei could be a long-term contract in the neighborhood of five years. Kevin Hayes is the most tricky due to his price tag, which could now be around $5.75 million AAV. What will the term be for the soon to be UFA? Ryan Spooner should get a year to prove he belongs with unrestricted status in 2019.

The Rangers finally completed their coaching staff, officially adding Greg Johnson and David Oliver as assistants on Quinn’s staff. Hopefully, this staff is on the same page and does a better job.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of Hudson administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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