Jimmy Vesey to The Rangers, and Their History of Signing NCAA Free Agents

BROADWAY – After months of waiting and waiting for something to transpire, #VeseyWatch has finally come to a close. Ultimately, the New York Rangers came out on top, and won the sweepstakes to sign the highly coveted Rookie Free Agent.

The 2016 Hobey Baker winner chose the Rangers over several other teams, such as the Chicago Blackhawks, the Buffalo Sabres, the New Jersey Devils, the Detroit Red Wings, the Toronto Maple Leafs, as well as his hometown team, the Boston Bruins.

The Vesey sweepstakes first evaporated when the former third-round pick told Nashville Front Office that he will be testing Free Agent waters, rather than joining the team that drafted him on their Playoff run. In late June, just before the draft, the Preds would trade their prized prospect’s rights to the Buffalo Sabres, in exchange for a third-round pick.

Regardless of the trade, Sabres General Manager Tim Murray could not convince Vesey to sign with Buffalo before the August 15th deadline, and five days later, Vesey would make his decision to begin his NHL career playing his home games in Madison Square Garden.

When a top NCAA player becomes available via free agency, the Rangers always seem to be in the mix. Date back to 2014. The Chicago Blackhawks decide to let their 2010 first round pick Kevin Hayes walk, leaving him to become an unrestricted free agent, where a day later the Rangers would pick him up, and sign him to a contract.

Hayes, who grew up with Jimmy Vesey as a matter of fact, and was a big reason why the Harvard graduate decided to sign in New York, has been a decent player for the Blueshirts thus far, and hope that Vesey will have a similar impact. However, the Rangers have struck out with top NCAA Free Agents in the past.

Turn back the clock to 2009, and the Rangers are in a locked in battle with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Vancouver Canucks to sign Undrafted Boston University defenseman Matt Gilroy. The Rangers won the competition to sign the BU star, and inked to a 2 year, 3.5 million dollar contract. In 2 seasons, Gilroy struggled with the Rangers, and was eventually shipped out of New York.

Vesey will have a spot come training, but his spot in the lineup will all depend on his performance in camp, pre-season, as well as the beginning of the Regular Season as well.


As a result of the addition of Jimmy Vesey to the lineup, the Rangers re-tooling stage, is sped up immensely. This retooling stage is the aftermath from trading plenty of their draft picks and prospects for rental players, to help spark their past playoff runs (e.g. Keith Yandle and Eric Staal). Earlier this off-season, the Rangers swapped Derick Brassard for Mika Zibanejad, indicating the beginning of the retooling process.

To start the season, the Rangers should look to put Vesey alongside his childhood buddy, Kevin Hayes, to possibly re-gain some of that old chemistry, and potentially translate it onto the ice. In that case, J.T. Miller should be moved to the Right Wing, a player who is very versatile and can play both wings, complementing Vesey who is a natural Left Winger.

However, if things start to go south for Vesey, the acquisition of Vesey makes it very easy to shuffle the lines around, due to his offensive skill set. He will make his way into the Top 6 at some point this season, possibly alongside Zibanejad and Chris Kreider.

On the other hand, he could even be shifted to the fourth line if he ends up hitting a bump on the road. It would not a problem, as he would still be among quick and skilled players such as former KHL young star Pavel Buchnevich, and speedster Michael Grabner. Vesey could be in that position because he can provide that scoring depth, an asset where the NHL is transitioning into four lines of speed and skill.

In the long run, the decision for Vesey to sign in the Big Apple is a very good fit for the 23 year-old, due to the ability to contend for a cup quickly, but also he will develop and learn the ropes from great veteran players such as Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, and Captain Ryan McDonagh.


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