Finding the perfect role for Jimmy Vesey



With a contract up for grabs, Rangers are now trying to find the ideal role for Jimmy Vesey once games matter next week. He bounced around the lines during camp and pre-season, notably on the front line with Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad. Naturally, no one expected that, and it may not benefit Vesey’s strengths as he enters his 7th NHL season.

In his first six years in the NHL, Vesey never eclipsed more than 35 points, which he did in 2018-19 with the Rangers. His last two seasons have been within 20 points without scoring 10 goals. In short, he is not an offensive player. And that’s fine, as long as it’s a contribution to finding the perfect role for Jimmy Vesey.

Vesey too has not committed an offense for some time. Over the past three years (RAPM chart on the left) he has been a moderate net negative in xGF/60 while having no finishing ability. Last season (RAPM on the right) shows at least better individual offensive and defensive measures, but it’s a big red bar to put the puck in the net. I think it’s safe to say that, based on his point totals and driving metrics, the top six isn’t the ideal role for Jimmy Vesey.

Given what we know of him, the ideal role for Jimmy Vesey is in the final six in a lookahead and potentially stopgap role.

Ideal role for Jimmy Vesey may not matter in roster building

If we’re assuming the lines from the last pre-season game, and not the recent iteration that came at Chris Drury’s insistence, then Rangers are keeping the Kid Line together and stapling Vitali Kravtsov to Artemiy Panarin. At least to start the season. That doesn’t leave many options for the third wheel on the top line. So Jimmy Vesey’s ideal role may not matter if Rangers are to tread water on the front row.

Unfortunately, the only other options aren’t attacking inclined either: Barclay Goodrow and Sammy Blais. There’s a strong argument that Blais and Vesey have similar playstyles, so the ideal role for Jimmy Vesey is basically where Blais is – 4LW.

Sometimes injuries have an unexpected side effect on coaches who get started on the right lines. That may not be the case with Rangers this year as they have plenty of bottom six options that will keep Vesey in the top six for now.

Vesey, like Dryden Hunt last year, is going to stumble into a top-six role for most of the season. Drury is expected to address this issue at the trade deadline as Rangers tread water and bank cap space throughout the season. Luckily, two-thirds of that top line is very dangerous, and if the middle six is ​​producing runs and sustained offensive pressure, we might not care too much about the top line.

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