This afternoon, Boston Globe reporter Kevin Paul Dupont gave us a quote to update us on what Jimmy Vesey is thinking lately:
Jimmy Vesey: ‘’I’m still going to go to free agency and explore all my options.”
— Kevin Paul Dupont (@GlobeKPD) July 2, 2016
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the wise words of Brian Hayes:
The best signing the Leafs can make this off-season will be on August 15th: Jimmy Vesey.
— Bryan Hayes (@HayesTSN) July 1, 2016
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.