The New York Rangers signed Jimmy Vesey to a two-year $1.6 million extension through the 2024-25 season on Jan. 4. The 29-year-old winger has played well this season during his second stint in New York and the deal could prove to be a steal for the Blueshirts. They secured a reliable player and the low average annual value of the deal should make it easier for the team to re-sign key young players over the next few years.
Vesey’s Play With the Rangers
After four impressive years at Harvard capped off by winning the Hobey Baker Award in 2016, Vesey signed with the Rangers ahead of the 2016-17 season. He faced enormous expectations but struggled with the speed of the game in the NHL and made too many defensive mistakes.
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Vesey spent his first three seasons with the Rangers and had his best season in 2018-19, with 17 goals and 18 assists in 81 games. He bounced around with four teams over the next three seasons and then earned a one-year contract with the Rangers after getting a professional tryout this offseason.
This time around Vesey is no longer expected to be a star, but he is thriving as a defensive forward and penalty killer. His defensive positioning is excellent, he makes smart decisions with the puck and he is also chipping in offensively, with seven goals and seven assists in 40 games.
Though Vesey is primarily used in a bottom-six role, he has still shown flashes of talent, scoring a beautiful game-winning goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Dec. 15. He also deked to score a nice shorthanded goal against the Detroit Red Wings on Nov. 10.
This season, head coach Gerard Gallant has opted to mix and match lines often, so Vesey has played with a lot of different linemates and he has performed well with all of them. He is someone the Rangers can rely on in any situation and their decision to sign him this offseason is paying off.
Rangers Salary Cap Situation
Over the past few years, the Rangers have signed lots of key players to long-term contracts including Adam Fox, Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, Jacob Trouba, Artemi Panarin, Vincent Trocheck, and Barclay Goodrow. While these players helped them make a run to the Eastern Conference Final last season, the team now has less cap space and they have to find a way to keep some of their talented young players.
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K’Andre Miller, Filip Chytil, and Alexis Lafreniere are all set to become restricted free agents after this season, while Ryan Lindgren, Braden Schneider, and Kaapo Kakko will become restricted free agents after the 2023-24 season. Additionally, star goalie Igor Shesterkin is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2024-25 season. One positive for the Rangers is that while they are on the hook for just under $3.5 million in dead cap this season, all of that will be gone next season.
The Rangers need to decide which players to re-sign to long-term extensions and they also need to find some reliable players that they can sign for less money. Vesey’s play this season is a pleasant surprise and his $800,000 cap hit for the next two seasons makes it easier for the team to re-sign upcoming free agents.
For Vesey and the Rangers Moving Forward
Vesey deserves credit for turning his career around. After failing to develop into a star during his first stint with the Rangers, he has successfully transitioned from an offensive-minded prospect to a gritty defensive forward. He has played well in the first half of the season, and the team needs him to keep playing the same way. He has stabilized their bottom-six forward group, playing responsibly defensively, and providing some secondary scoring as well. While his contract extension is low-risk, it certainly has the potential to be very rewarding for the Rangers in the future.
I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, rooting for the Rangers, Yankees, Giants, and Knicks. When my dream of playing shortstop for the Yankees fell short, I started writing about sports instead. I’m a proud graduate of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland.