The New York Rangers need plenty of players to up their games for a successful 2018-19 campaign, including Jimmy Vesey.
As general manager Jeff Gorton started to break apart their roster at the trade deadline a season, it became apparent that he was placing an emphasis on young talent. He was taking the risk of believing in players like Vesey, Brady Skjei, Mika Zibanejad, Kevin Hayes and many others. While those players did step up and show Gorton what he needed to see, Vesey seemed to be the lone player with a question mark next to his name.
Looking at Vesey’s overall numbers, you might ask why exactly should there be a question mark next to his name? 17 goals and 11 assists are solid numbers for a player playing on a team’s third line. The problem is not the numbers that Vesey ended up with, the problem lies with how he got there. He had a dreadful start to the beginning of the regular season, scoring two goals in the month of October alone. Something that cannot happen this season.
As the season progressed and Vesey’s role started to increase, he started to become more of an impact player. He posted 10 points, four goals, and six assists, in 19 games following the departure of key players. That is the type of Vesey that newly hired David Quinn will be looking for at the start of training camp. Not the player how got off to that slow start a season ago.
Vesey has always had one thing working in his favor when you were analyzing his game. He was a rookie struggling with the everyday adjustment in the NHL from the college game two seasons ago. Last year you could attribute his struggles to a sophomore slump and the league adjusting to his game. That excuse can no longer be there for the 25-year-old. Now he has become someone the team will be relying on, just like they did with Kevin Hayes a season ago.
The player the Rangers need is the one who uses the body and can put the puck in the back of the net. The expectation should be for Vesey to finally break the 20 goal mark or to make it past the 35 points for a season. This is going to be extremely important considering the team’s lack of scoring. After the trade deadline, the Blueshirts ranked 22nd in goals scored a trend that should be expected to continue in 2018-19. But if Vesey could up his offensive game that should not be a problem.
Vesey should be given a bigger and more important role entering next season. He might be going up against some of the better defenders in the league, but he’s shown the ability to still put up the numbers in the past. He’s played on lines with Derek Stepan and Rick Nash, seen time on the power-play, and in crunch time. It’s not too much to ask from him.
The Rangers rewarded the former Hobey Baker award winner with a multi-year extension this offseason, now it’s time for him to show that he can take the next step and be a player that they can rely on long term.