If you travel back to the spring of 2016 there was a name on the tip of everyone’s tongue, and it was Jimmy Vesey. The star NCAA player wasn’t interested in playing in Nashville and was going to hit free agency. The Leafs were interested and just so happened to employee his Dad and have his brother as a prospect in the system. In case you don’t remember, the Rangers ended up landing Vesey, and Jimmy didn’t exactly go onto the stellar career that was promised. Fast forward to today…
🖋️ We've signed Jimmy Vesey to a one-year contract! #LeafsForever
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) October 12, 2020
Vesey is finally ours. For one year. At low, low price of $900k.
Vesey’s production over the past few seasons with Harvard has been excellent. He was third among NCAA players in scoring last season, trailing only Jack Eichel and Eichel’s linemate Evan Rodriguez and four points clear of the fourth highest scoring player, Toronto Marlies depth winger Zach Hyman. He finished the 2014-15 campaign in the top-10 in the NCAA by shot rate (just behind Detroit Red Wings prospect Dylan Larkin), and led all NCAA players in goals per game rate.
Once again Vesey is leading the NCAA in goals per game rate this season, and he’s currently sporting a top-five shot rate also. Whether or not he’s a future top-six forward in the NHL, Vesey’s performance has been solid enough that he’ll have a ton of suitors should he hit unrestricted free agency this summer.
Here’s where we’re at today:
He’s still got that 6’3 frame, but arguably he hasn’t done a whole bunch with it.
He’s a pretty middle of the road type player, but not one that you mind putting on your third line and if he’s playing on your fourth line, you’ve got a pretty deep lineup.
Alas, the biggest question is trying to determine how Vesey fits into the Leafs situation. Are there still more bodies to move out on the wing? Pretty much every falls into the low cost option or was tagged as a potential center (Engvall or Kerfoot). Everything about Vesey seems like a potential move to replace Engvall, if he was going to be on the wing, so maybe Pierre is on the way out.
As for Vesey’s usage, he did some work on the penalty kill last season, but rarely saw powerplay time, so special teams may not be in his future. Adding some size, even if it’s not overly physical size to the forward group might be beneficial, and I guess we’ll see how this plays out.
If Vesey is in fact a 3rd line player, he might be reunited with his Harvard linemate Alex Kerfoot, assuming he isn’t dealt. Perhaps that is strategy here by Kyle Dubas, build the smartest line in hockey.