by PuckStopsHere on 08/19/16 at 07:46 PM ET
There isn't much hockey news in August. Evidence of this is the fact that we have all been waiting to see where a player with no NHL experience at all will sign. Jimmy Vesey is that player and he signed with the New York Rangers today.
Vesey was drafted by the Nashville Predators in 2012 but chose not to join them. He played at Harvard University for his four year college career. He won the Hobey Baker Trophy as NCAA MVP in his most recent season. When Vesey did not sign with Nashville he became an unrestricted free agent this summer, but not until August 15th. His rights were traded to Buffalo for a third round draft pick in June. He didn't sign in Buffalo either. Today we have learned that he will be a New York Ranger.
The question is how good is Vesey? As the MVP in the NCAA he is definitely a prospect. The last two winners before Vesey were Jack Eichel of Buffalo in 2015 and Johnny Gaudreau of Calgary in 2014. There is definite precedent for a Hobey Baker winner to be a star NHL player. However there are differences between those Hobey Baker winners and Vesey.
Eichel was 18 years old when he was in his first year with Boston University. He scored 71 points in 40 games that season. Gaudreau was 20 years old in his third year at Boston College when he scored 80 points in 40 games. Meanwhile Vesey was 22 in his fourth year at Harvard when he scored 46 points in 33 games in his Baker winning season. In fact Vesey is the lowest point scoring forward in his Hobey Baker Trophy winning season ever. Also as a fourth year player in college he was older than the two previous Baker Trophy winners who significantly outscored him.
Vesey was actually the 17th highest scorer in the NCAA last year. The problem with that statement is that different college teams play different numbers of games played in their seasons. Harvard plays fewer games than many other top colleges. In terms of points per game, Vesey was 7th in the NCAA. Those don't sound like MVP numbers. There are people who argued that the Baker voters missed their mark and gave it to Vesey as a career achievement award instead of as best player that season.
Some players with Vesey's pedigree have gone on to have good NHL careers, however most do not. It isn't clear that Vesey is immediately NHL ready. He might be better served by spending some time in the AHL before making his jump to the NHL but given the high profile situation in which he signed, I doubt he gets that chance.
Jimmy Vesey signed with the New York Rangers. Will he be a solid NHL player? It is quite possible, although that is far from certain. Will he be an NHL star? It is far less likely - but not impossible. More likely than not, we will look back on today's signing and wonder why it was ever considered a big deal.
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