The Contrarian – Oh Vesey

Demetri Fragopoulos


Examining the Jimmy Vesey signing, including comparable players

There are so many ways to go with the Jimmy Vesey signing. Let’s get started.

Pimple Popper

TSN had a sound bite from Calgary Flames President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke on the Jimmy Vesey situation before he signed with the New York Rangers and he commented by saying, “If you look at that group and the money that the league has spent on those players and their contribution, it is a pimple on an elephant’s butt.”

The group he was referring to are NCAA free agents, to which he also stated, “If you look at the college free agents, they have made a dramatically insignificant contribution to our league.”

The only two things from Burke that had some positive connotation were “I think he’s gonna be a good player,” referring to Vesey, and, “Tyler Bozak might be the best one,” of the college free agents.

I am sure that got the attention of some hockey executives and fans out there, but let me put this into context.

The question the TSN reporter asked, “What’s it like for a player like him to be wined-and-dined by a big league team like the Toronto Maple Leafs?”

Would you expect him to respond in any other way?

Burke was not going to put himself into a situation where he could get fined for tampering, as Vesey’s rights were held by the Buffalo Sabres. The reporter should be asking that question of an executive from a big league team, not Burke of the Flames.

So what Burke does do is throw some water at Vesey and the teams vying for his services by concluding that NCAA free agents are mostly a waste of money and of the ones that were good signings his Bozak was the best.

Take that, big league teams… ahem…Toronto. But is what Burke said true?

I do not have the resources to find all college free agent signings and see if the dollar-per-point ratio holds true or not, but I did find some other documentation that could cast a light on to Burke’s response.

Earlier this year fellow Dobber columnist Peter Harling wrote of the 2016 college free agent class and highlighted a few things. Notably, “There are two ways college players can become NHL free agents. The most common was is they simply were never drafted and have completed their collegiate careers. Some players of prominence who entered the NHL recently via this route include Danny DeKeyser, Tyler Bozak and Trevor van Riemsdyk.” Also, “The other way is if they were drafted, but have not signed an NHL contract after four years, and their collegiate career is completed. This route is less common, but produces a higher caliber of player. Previous players who followed this [path] include Blake Wheeler, Justin Schultz and Mike Reilly.”

This article by Sportsnet’s Mike Johnston lists some more players, adding Kevin Hayes, Bozak, Torey Kru