Consider, for a moment, what’s laying in front of Jimmy Vesey.
Tonight, the ballyhooed Harvard product will make both his NHL and New York Rangers debuts, at Madison Square Garden.
All things considered, it’s a pretty big stage.
And considering how long Vesey’s been in the news, it’s easy to forget that, y’know, he’s never been on the stage before. He balked at signing with the team that drafted him (Nashville), which caused an minor uproar, then balked at signing with the team that acquired his rights (Buffalo), which was slightly less uproarious.
Vesey signing with the Rangers was a big deal personally, and could end up being an even bigger deal for the Blueshirts.
New York has some young prospects, but the cupboard is bare compared to other NHL clubs. Part of this is nature of the beast — the Rangers have been in a Stanley Cup window over the last few years, which meant jettisoning off picks and prospects at the deadline to bolster playoff runs.
But with that window closing, GM Jeff Gorton knew he had to try and implement some youth into the lineup.
That’s why he traded Derick Brassard to Ottawa for Mika Zibanejad — the latter is six years younger — and that’s why the Rangers have an opening-night lineup that includes the likes of Pavel Buchnevich (21-years-old), Brady Skjei (22) and Adam Clendening (23).
And, of course, the 23-year-old Vesey.
The Rangers aren’t going to bring Vesey along slowly. From the get, he’ll be treated as a top player — he’s going to get first-line minutes, and first-unit power play time.
Whether that’s too much, too soon remains to be seen.
His head coach is willing to take the risk.
“I’ve always been a firm believer that talent has no age,” Alain Vigneault said, per the New York Post. “It’s just a matter of getting it out of young players by giving them opportunities and putting them in situations where they can be successful.”