Jimmy Vesey has signed a two-year contract with the New York Rangers.
The hockey universe’s last compelling story of the summer – and ‘compelling’ is being used very loosely here – came to an end around supper time on Friday, as free agent Jimmy Vesey signed with the New York Rangers. As Samwell Tarly might say, "and now Vesey watch has ended."
At time of writing, this is all we know of the two-year entry-level contract:
Max deal for Jimmy Vesey: $925K base pay, $1.925M in performance bonuses.
— Fluto Shinzawa (@GlobeFluto) August 19, 2016
In general, I find this a curious move for the Rangers. Adding talent, and someone that can play in the middle-six right away, is always a good thing. Their forward group was not the problem, though. If they still had hopes of being any kind of contender in the East, that blue line needed (needs) significant upgrades. I suppose they’re hoping that their forwards can cover up for their defence.
Fantasy Impact – Negative
The first name that came to mind when I saw Vesey would be donning a Rangers jersey was that of Pavel Buchnevich. Having Vesey come in, with Rick Nash already there, and not to mention Chris Kreider, it means that any hope dynasty owners had of Buchnevich having fantasy impact this year has dissipated. At least for now. Anything can happen once we get a month or two into the season, but I don’t see the Rangers going through all these negotiations just to put Vesey on the fourth line. I mean, Nash can play the right side, but at best that would still only put Buchnevich on the third line. Again, I think his dynasty owners will have to wait another year.
This also probably ends any immediate fantasy value that Kevin Hayes may have had. Not that he was particularly a target for fantasy owners, but supposing that the top-six winger mix is Nash/Kreider/Zuccarello/Vesey, this will push Hayes to the third line. There may have been outside shot that Hayes could start on the second line right wing this year, but this signing probably ends that.
All this, of course, depends on how coach Alain Vigneault would like to set up his lines. Maybe he wants to get Vesey acclimated to the NHL first, and start him on the third line early in the season, working his way gradually up the depth chart. Then again, maybe he starts right in the top-six. For now, it’s guess-work.
Fantasy Impact – Positive
As mentioned earlier, adding Vesey builds up what is the Rangers’ biggest strength among their skaters, and that is their wingers. This gives the Rangers a ton of options at their wing position, and that will be a position of strength for them. Just throwing this out there, but it would also make trading Rick Nash easier to swallow, should they decide to do so.
Writing this, I’m not sure who this helps positively. I mean, if Vesey goes to Chicago, he plays with Toews or Kane. If he goes to Boston, he plays with Krejci. Does going to the Rangers offer him any additional benefit fantasy-wise that he wouldn’t have had elsewhere? I don’t think so. Also, assuming Vesey starts on the second line with Mika Zibanejad as his centre, is Vesey an upgrade over (previously) potential second line left winger Chris Kreider? I doubt it.
So that leads me to believe – and again, this is just a guess for now until we know where he actually slots in – that this is a positive for Kreider. I am assuming they’ll have Nash on the right wing full-time, with Zuccarello behind him. That leaves Kreider open to play on the top line, which should lead to more ice time. Vigneault likes to spread out the time, so it won’t push Kreider to 19-20 minutes, but playing 17-18 minutes a game seems like a real possibility for now. If that is what happens, that 25-goal, 50-point season fantasy owners have been waiting for from Kreider may soon be a reality.
No matter what, expectations need to be tempered here. A very good season for Vesey would be between 40-50 points. Drafting him in fantasy this year with the belief that he will be a 50-point player out of the gate is not the way to go about this. In one-year leagues, do no forego proven 50-point player with the hope that Vesey is immediately just that.
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