New York Rangers: Contextualizing Jimmy Vesey’s Season

Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

Jimmy Vesey served as a healthy scratch on Friday night. With that came plenty of questions surrounding if his signing was as good as previously considered.

When the New York Rangers signed Jimmy Vesey to an entry-level contract this past off-season, it was considered one of the steals of the year. Getting a young, cost-controlled player that could enter the lineup right away? That’s the dream right there.

When Jimmy Vesey began the season on a tear, pundits questioned if he could make a run at the Calder Trophy.

Following his tear through the beginning of the season, Vesey hit a road bump. More like a car accident, perhaps, as Vesey entered a stretch of tremendous struggles to find the back of the net. The Rangers’ struggles coincided with Vesey’s, placing the youngster under the microscope.

The question started to be asked: is Jimmy Vesey even worth it for the Rangers?

Yikes. Let’s dive in.

The Contract

Asking if Jimmy Vesey is worth it for the Rangers is an odd question. Vesey earns $925,000 for each of the next two seasons. To put that in context, the Rangers needed to pay Brandon Pirri $1.1 Million to convince him to join the team.

$925,000 is pocket change to an NHL organization. Yet the Rangers managed to grab a budding talent ready for NHL action for that price due to the NHL’s contract rules.

While Vesey has not lit up the NHL straight out of the gate, any team would want him in their top nine for $925,000 for the next two seasons. There was good reason NHL teams fought over him when he was a free agent this past off-season. His performance doesn’t change that.

Related Story: Rangers' X-Factors for the Post-Season

The Play

TSN’s Scott Cullen looked at what to expect out of Vesey before the season. Let’s go through Cullen’s article:

"Taking Vesey’s production from last season and running it through the equivalency calculator, it would be reasonable to expect about 30 points in a full season. That’s fine – it fits quite comfortably as a middle-six forward on a reasonable entry-level deal (194 forwards tallied at least 30 points last season) – but also doesn’t seem like it’s worth so much fuss.But the fuss was not generated by Vesey. Merely exercising his option to become a free agent doesn’t somehow elevate his stature to make him an elite player. Consider some of the groups in which Vesey is a member."

Now that we’ve had more games to look at Vesey, his pace sets him up for approximately 28 points, two shy of what Cullen projected.

Worth additional consideration is the fact that this is Vesey’s first full season. College athletes play under 50 games per season, putting them at a disadvantage in their first full NHL season. That’s where the benching comes in….

Related Story: The Ryan McDonagh Problem

The Benching

All of the discussion surrounding Vesey was sparked by his benching on Friday night. Although Alain Vigneault pointed to struggles, the struggles’ cause may be simple to identify.

As stated previously, this is Vesey’s first full season. While Vigneault entered and exited Pavel Buchnevich from the lineup throughout the season, Jimmy Vesey remained. Throughout his struggles, Vesey earned zero healthy scratches until Friday night.

Thus, Vesey’s speed noticeably diminished, and his ability to spark the offense all but disappeared. Vigneault was able to scratch Vesey because of….

The New York Rangers’ Depth

The Rangers’ depth allowed the Rangers to scratch Vesey. New York boasts over 12 forwards on their active roster ready for NHL playing time. It’s that that makes it difficult to understand why Vesey was never a healthy scratch before.

Should part of your consideration of Vesey’s struggles be Rangers fans calling for his being a healthy scratch, know that those fans are using the depth as a reason to give him a night off. Remember, Vesey never played this many games.

Additionally, the Rangers’ depth means Vesey has moved up and down the lineup. Vesey played on every line this season, getting time with various linemates. For a rookie, failing to have consistent linemates can hurt confidence and chemistry.

Related Story: Five Must-Know 2016-17 Stats

Has Jimmy Vesey been a star this year? No. Has he been a disappointment? He hasn’t put up eye-opening numbers, but he’s contributed to victories and shown promise.

When considering writing a snarky tweet like this:

Consider this: Jimmy Vesey earns $925,000 on the salary cap this season, and every team in the NHL wanted him for that. Cheap, young talent is impossible to find. Vesey scored 26 points thus far in his rookie season. He will score more next season. He’s will have further NHL success.

The Rangers will play in the NHL playoffs. Jimmy Vesey can be scratched for the rest of the season, it doesn’t matter. Not many other teams can say the same.

Next: Roundtable: Steven McDonald Award Picks

Yeah, we’ll take Vesey.