The New York Rangers have avoided arbitration with one of their restricted free agents, signing Jimmy Vesey to a two-year contract worth a total of $4.55MM. Vesey was scheduled for an arbitration hearing on July 30th, which will no longer be necessary.
Vesey, 25, probably has more name recognition than most middle-six wingers in the league that are coming off back-to-back seasons with fewer than 30 points. That’s because of the saga that unfolded in the summer of 2016, when Vesey told the Nashville Predators he wouldn’t sign with them coming out of college. Even after trading a third-round pick for his rights the Buffalo Sabres couldn’t convince him to sign, and Vesey eventually became an unrestricted free agent. Despite connections to the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, a then 23-year old Vesey decided to sign with the New York Rangers and was immediately inserted into their lineup.
In the two years since exiting Harvard following his Hobey Baker-winning season, Vesey has scored 33 goals and 55 points in 159 games. While that is fine production for a player that cost the Rangers nothing but an entry-level contract, it’s not quite what people were expecting when he was one of the most talked about stories of the 2016 offseason. There’s an obvious knack for goal scoring in Vesey, but there hasn’t been a consistent enough offensive or defensive presence to really consider him a key member in the Rangers’ quick rebuild. Instead he presents as a secondary scoring threat that is valuable and now reasonably priced at an average annual value of $2.275MM.
If Vesey is to really live up to the hype that surrounded him two summers ago, he’ll have to do it quickly before several younger prospects really make their mark and start demanding minutes with their on-ice play. Filip Chytil and Lias Andersson both received a taste of NHL action last year but could be full-time options for the team this season, while others like Brett Howden and Vitali Kravtsov aren’t far behind. Vesey will be an unrestricted free agent once again at the end of this two-year deal, meaning if he doesn’t show enough to justify a long-term contract this season he could find himself on the trade block at some point.