Jimmy Vesey is likely to fall short of expectations for those who were embittered by his free agent process and all the hype he generated.
It’s difficult to place what kind of forward the 23-year-old will be, especially right off the bat. Few view him as a star, but the Rangers paid a modest price to get someone who can boost their top-nine or, even better, be a top-six guy.
There are plenty of reasons to be excited, yet there are also red flags for those who are expecting star-quality work. Just consider where he stands compared to other forwards who’ve enjoyed a more traditional – if also more restricted – journey to the NHL:
The aim here isn’t to assess Vesey. Instead, let’s just take a step back and admire what the Rangers have done this off-season, especially after the occasional chaos that ensues during the very beginning of free agency.
While their defense remains troubling, the Rangers boast still-outstanding goalie Henrik Lundqvist and quite the deep group of forwards.
Every forward except Rick Nash and Tanner Glass (both 32) is under 30 years old, and there’s a nice variety of rugged types, speedy finesse players and mixtures of the two:
23: Vesey, J.T. Miller, Mika Zibanejad (five years younger than the guy he was traded for, Derick Brassard)
24: Kevin Hayes, Jesper Fast, Oscar Lindberg
25: Chris Kreider
26: Derek Stepan, Josh Jooris
28: Mats Zuccarello, Michael Grabner
29: Nathan Gerbe
The Rangers signed Kreider, Miller and now Vesey to deals that should be very friendly to the team’s cap situation. Grabner and Gerbe are guys who were low-risk veteran signings who could still have something in the tank. Zibanejad falling in the same age range as Vesey really makes that trade look promising.
It really lowers the stakes of Vesey’s signing in some ways. He can blend into the group a bit more in New York (much like he’d be able to with certain other choices, like the Chicago Blackhawks) than he might with a team that would need a little more from him.
Does this propel the Rangers to contender status?
Probably not, but that forward group looks that much deeper thanks to what’s been a great summer for the franchise.