The New York Rangers continued to clear out cap space by trading winger Jimmy Vesey to the Buffalo Sabres. Buffalo, you’ll remember, traded for Vesey’s rights a few years ago but were unable to sign him. He eventually would end up with the Rangers. Everything has come full circle, kind of.
What Buffalo gets
What Buffalo is getting, exactly, will depend to whom readers talk. He came into the NHL with a lot of fanfare but in his three years he did not reach either 20 goals or 40 points in any season. Of course, if someone thought he’d be a top-line winger, this is a failure. If someone thought he’d be depth scoring on the wing, this is a success; his goals/60 minutes at five-on-five over his career is in the same range as other middle-six wingers like Alex Killorn, Marcus Johansson, Andrew Shaw, and Richard Panik. Keep in mind who Vesey was playing with, too. In 2018-19, his most-common line, via Dobber Frozen Tools, was with Vladislav Namestnikov and Brett Howden. The year before, it was J.T. Miller and David Desharnais. It was only his first year that he was given good line mates, and even then Rick Nash was on the clear downside of his career.
All that means Vesey ranking inside the 25th percentile of goal scorers over his three years on a per-minute rate, while really not playing with much help, is a pretty good indicator of his scoring talent.
His issue is that going to Buffalo, there’s already a very good scoring left winger there in Jeff Skinner. There is also Conor Sheary to contend with. My assumption is that Vesey goes to the third line to boost the scoring depth while Skinner stays with Jack Eichel and Sheary plays with Casey Mittelstadt. Really, it doesn’t matter if Vesey is on the second or third line; if he’s not with Eichel, I’m not sure there’s much of an upgrade at five-on-five.
The upgrade would come on the power play. Buffalo often ran with three forwards but I wonder if it was to keep Rasmus Ristolainen on the top unit or because there was no clear-cut fourth forward to use. When they did go to four forwards, it was a rotating cast of guys like Mittelstadt, Sheary, Kyle Okposo, and others. If Vesey can get those coveted PP minutes, reaching 20 goals and 40 points seems eminently doable. He won’t provide a lot for peripheral stats, though, so he’s more of an option for points-only leagues, and that’s only if he ends up on the top PP unit.
What New York gets
The Rangers get a third-round pick in 2021 but what this really did was open up both a roster spot and some cap space for the impending signing of Artemi Panarin. Swap out Vesey for Panarin and push him to the top line.
Who this helps
Mika Zibanejad (likely)
Who this hurts
Filip Chytil (pending Panarin and Kreider)
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