Vesey looking to explore free agency options

This afternoon, Boston Globe reporter Kevin Paul Dupont gave us a quote to update us on what Jimmy Vesey is thinking lately:

It seems that Vesey is all over the place this summer. Having first committed to leaving Nashville, then seemingly committed to joining Boston, and then being traded to Buffalo, many are uncertain as to where he’ll land.

PLAYER QUALITY

I wanted to give a quick run down of Vesey as a player, for those who are only aware of the hype and not aware of the ability. The Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner (top college hockey player that season) had a solid senior year, following up what was a stellar junior year. His first two seasons were only okay, but overall he seems to be on a reasonably good development path.

For a more qualitative look, he’s a winger with a big body and strong vision. His passing is always at a high level, and seems to possess that questionably accurate scouting term “Hockey IQ”. All in all, he’s definitely a talented player

Over the course of his 4 years, he scored at a pace of 1.125 points-per-game, which is undoubtedly solid. The last 2 years were even better, at 1.488 points-per-game. Finding players who scored at that pace in their final 2 years of college is an almost impossible task. But, that’s a bit of a Catch 22 situation. No one scores at that pace in their senior year, because no one who plays to their senior year is good enough to score at that pace, because usually anyone who is leaves college in their earlier years.

This, of course, is not a knock against Vesey, just something to consider when valuing his production. Vesey stayed in college for a career backup plan, not because he wasn’t ready to make the jump to professional hockey. However, it does present an interesting case where we’re not exactly sure how to rank Vesey against his college-alumna peers. 

OPPORTUNITY

Looking at the Leafs, who have a bit of a hole behind James Van Riemsdyk on LW, they could certainly afford to take a look at Vesey. The Leafs have just signed Matt Martin to play 4th line LW, and currently have Josh Leivo, Nikita Soshnikov, Brendan Leipsic, William Nylander and Kerby Rychel who could fight with Vesey for the other two spots. Of course, some of those players will end up in the AHL and some of them will end up on RW. The only sure NHL LW in that group, for me, is Rychel. So, I’d be confident that Vesey could step in and make an impact as a middle-6 winger.

Being able to add an NHL winger at UFA season who is only 22 is a great opportunity for the Leafs as well, so I’d be surprised to see them not go down that alley.

CONTRACT

Vesey is an unrestricted free agent, but as he is under 25, he must be signed to an Entry-Level deal. From Cap Friendly, this means:

Players younger than 25 years of age as of September 15 during the year of their first NHL contract must sign an entry-level contract which have set limitations – all entry-level contracts are two-way contracts and the maximum allowable salary for players drafted until 2022 is $925,000. 
The length of the entry-level contract is also dependent on the player’s age:

  • 18-21 years of age: 3 years
  • 22-23 years of age: 2 years
  • 24 years of age: 1 year

Entry-level contracts can still include signing and performance bonuses. Signing bonuses may not exceed 10 percent of the contract’s total compensation, and is paid to players annually. Performance bonuses for entry-level contracts, that are paid by the team and count against the salary cap cannot exceed a maximum of $2,850,000. Performance Bonuses are broken into 2 categories: Schedule A and Schedule B. Schedule A Bonuses may not exceed $212,500 per individual bonus, and $850,000 in total. There are two types of Schedule B Bonuses. League-wide award/trophy bonuses that are paid by the league and are not captured within the actual entry-level contract signed by the player, and player & club agreed upon bonuses, of which the maximum is $2million per season.

So, the suitor for Vesey will likely give him the maximum $925K salary, and load it with bonuses as is appropriate from their perspective. Teams must be careful with the bonuses, though, as the Chicago Blackhawks are learning with Artemi Panarin. These bonuses will count against the cap for the next season, so you have to plan for that with regard to contracts you have signed through to that next season.

CONCLUSION

In the wise words of Brian Hayes: 

I certainly hope the Leafs make a push for Vesey, but ultimately I think his mind is set on other sights. Of course, this would namely be the Bruins, his hometown team. But as we saw with Stamkos, there’s a lot more on a player’s mind than where they grew up, so anything could potentially happen.

  • Harold Ballard

    Let this be the last of signings for Toronto this off season (if they do decide they can make room for him)! I wanna see who is gonna be on the roster in training camp, who is going back to the Marlies and if they send Marner back to London (which I hope they don’t)

  • Harte of a Lion

    If we do strike gold again with Vesey, you damn well know he is playing with Marner and Mathews.

    If this were to be in the pipeline then I definitely smell a trade coming that moves some pieces out from our loaded front end, maybe spruce up the ol’ defence. Stop me when you heard this one before.

  • CMpuck

    If we land Vesey and extend JVR, with Marner and Nylander on the right side, nice top six balance of size and skill on each wing in the top six. The focus can shift solely on finding a legit 1B center and 1D.

  • Harold Ballard

    JVR, Kadri, Nylander, Vesey, Matthews, Marner. When everyone is in their prime, this will be a DEADLY top six. Then start to think about all the young talent that could potentially play in our bottom six.

  • giproc

    Competitive teams need to fill out their rosters with players on ELCs since they’re paying so much for their star cores. A million-dollar middle-six power forward can always be fit into even championship squads so I wouldn’t count out teams like the Caps, Hawks and Pens all taking a hard run at Vesey. The kid’s already been told more than once that he’s NHL ready. I see him choosing a team that is also championship ready.

    Personally, I think the Leaf connection through the father and brother only give them at best about a 20% chance of landing an American-born Hobey Baker winning kid from Boston.

    Love to have him, but we need to rethink our expectations since I think the Leafs are a long shot at this stage.

  • Harold Ballard

    I think Vesey will be looking for a team that appears to be heading in the right direction. The bruins are deteriorating as their veterans get old as they once again missed the playoffs. Perhaps a visit from two fellow americans, J.V.R. and young Matthews to Vesey’s home might be a good idea. They could even bring down some superior Canadian beer for the kid. A lot of the senior players selected haven’t worked out that well over the years but this kid seems to have all the tools to be a good player.

    Come on Jimmy make it a hat trick of your family being employed by the leafs.

  • Gary Empey

    Nikita Soshnikov, and Kerby Rychel is my guess to play behind JVR. The Leafs will only sign Vessy, if he is a better player or prospect. That leaves Kerby or Nikita out. Back to the Marlies for injury depth, development or possible trade.

    What burns my ass a little bit is why every time Nylander’s name is mentioned now, everyone has him playing on the wing. Where did that come from?

    I haven’t heard Babcock say it. I haven’t heard Lamoriello say it. I haven’t heard Keefe say we are grooming him to play left wing for the big team. I haven’t heard the skate sharpener say it. Where does it come from? Nylander has successfully played center all his life. He played the wing only when he first joined the Marlies at 18, around Christmas when he first arrived in North America. Last year right back to center having a terrific season at 19. Played center when called up to the Leafs. If Matthews wasn’t drafted then Nylander was #1 in our depth chart at center.

    Until things change we have Kadri, Matthews, Nylander and Bozak (not in that order) at center.

    If I have missed something please let me know.

  • magesticRAGE

    If they intend on going after Vesey, he may have to be content on starting with the Marlies, which are already stacked. Heck, with the Martin signing, both Rychel, Brown, maybe even Leivo may be OK the outside looking in. It’s good depth, but I would argue that it’s impeding curtain players, unless roster spots are cleared out.
    Since Martin is twice as tough as Michálek and Laich, if they are moved or bought out. That would leave a center and wing position open, allowing Nylander to play center, more importantly giving room for two more wingers to slot in.
    Vesey may get a few early games in, but he should be prepared to spend time with the Marlies, until the deadline anyway.