The Jimmy Vesey signing completed a brilliant offseason for Jeff Gorton and the New York Rangers.
If you ever go to a professional sporting event, like an NHL or NFL game, they will often test the fans on how loud they can get.
At first, the crowd is rather quiet. But as the PA announcer asks for the fans to make some noise, they erupt ferociously, destroying the fake sound level meter on the main scoreboard at the arena or stadium.
This is how the New York Rangers’ offseason went.
When free agency began on the opening day of July, general manager Jeff Gorton was virtually silent. Although they inked guys like Michael Grabner, a speedster who is a dominant penalty killer, and Nathan Gerbe, a 5’5″ veteran with a chip on his shoulder, fans weren’t excited about potential fourth-line players.
RELATED: Jimmy Vesey Picks Broadway Blue
Then came the trade. The Blueshirts shipped leading goal scorer and fan favorite Derick Brassard, and a seventh-round pick, to Ottawa in exchange for Swedish forward Mika Zibanejad and a second-round selection. While fans were dumbfounded at first glance, the swap allowed the Rangers to get younger and quicker down the middle.
The second-round pick may not help the Blueshirts now, but, once again, it allows the Rangers to get the young talent they have certainly lacked in recent years. Now, fans are excited and making some noise, but they are still looking for more.
And then there was yesterday.
After negotiating with nearly ten teams, former Harvard forward Jimmy Vesey and the Rangers came to terms on a two-year, entry-level contract. Vesey, who didn’t reach the open market until earlier this week, was apparently down to the Blueshirts and the Chicago Blackhawks before eventually deciding Madison Square Garden would be his new home.
“Are you not entertained?” – Jeff Gorton (probably).
The crowd is now on their feet, roaring with praise for Gorton and the rest of the Rangers front office. Can you blame them?
Let’s examine what Gorton did this offseason.
After they were brutally disposed of in five games by the Pittsburgh Penguins, it was evident that Alain Vigneault’s squad had two glaring needs: Improve the penalty kill and acquire young talent.
Not many believed that he would be able to pull it off. The Rangers also had to re-sign guys like Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, and Kevin Hayes, leaving Gorton with very limited cap room in his first year on the job.
SEE ALSO: Has Alain Vigneault Been A Good Coach?
So what did the rookie GM accomplish? He found a way to address both needs without going over the cap.
He added guys like the aforementioned Grabner and former Calgary Flames center Josh Jooris. These guys aren’t going to pound the box score, but they will certainly be big parts of a penalty kill which ranked a disturbing 26th in the league last term.
The Zibanejad-Brassard swap did multiple things for the Rangers.
Yes, it added youth and speed to this lineup but the swap also provided Gorton cap flexibility to help bring back Hayes and Kreider.
Zibanejad is also a very talented penalty killer. His speed allows him to seriously disrupt the passing lanes and break up the ice to create shorthanded opportunities on the other end.
Then, Gorton pulled off the deal of the summer. The Rangers are getting a guy who registered 104 points in his junior and senior seasons at Harvard. The Massachusetts native claimed the Hobey Baker Award in his final year, which honors the best NCAA men’s hockey player. He is signed only to an entry-level contract and should be a huge contributor on Broadway now and in the future.
Vesey adds to a bright, young core of forwards in New York. He will likely find himself on a line with Hayes and fellow rookie Pavel Buchnevich. All three have the potential to be big time players in the NHL and, although they will have to battle through struggles as a group, the trio will be exciting to watch come October.
Gorton came into this offseason with loads of question marks. Now, after a little over a month and a half of free agency, there is no question that he delivered the goods this offseason.
It may take more than one offseason to fix the mess that Glen Sather created, but there is no doubt that he is off to a superb start.
It’s time to sit back and give Jeff Gorton a round of applause.