Could Jimmy Vesey be a good fit with the Flames?

The hockey world is abuzz – as much as it can be in mid-August – over college star Jimmy Vesey hitting free agency on Monday after four seasons with Harvard. The 23-year-old Boston-area product capped off his amateur career by winning the coveted Hobey Baker Award, and teams are shuffling around hoping to get him to sign with them.

Vesey’s likely to get a two-year deal for the rookie maximum of $925,000, but the big question(s) are what kind of bonuses teams will try to entice him with and what role he’ll be promised. While reports are that the front-runners for Vesey’s services reportedly include Boston, the NY Rangers, New Jersey, Toronto and Chicago, I wouldn’t necessarily rule out the Flames’ chances to land him completely.

THE FIT FOR THE FLAMES

Stop me if this guy sounds too much like a Flames player: pretty big (6’1″, just shy of 200 pounds), a college star with impressive offensive production on an Ivy League team. And Vesey’s a left winger, a position that’s pretty thin for the Flames once you get past Johnny Gaudreau. Micheal Ferland, Hunter Shinkaruk and others aren’t established offensive options yet (and Matthew Tkachuk might not yet be NHL-ready), and adding Vesey would give the Flames another interesting option up front.

And let’s say that Tkachuk is NHL-ready: adding Vesey would give the Flames a bit of flexibility at even strength (and allow them to use Tkachuk on the right side potentially), while giving them additional offensive weapons on the power-play.

In terms of cap space, we won’t know precisely what wiggle room the Flames have until Gaudreau and Sean Monahan sign their new deals, but signing Vesey would likely bump somebody like Linden Vey down to the AHL. Vey’s NHL salary is $700,000, so adding Vesey would only increase the team’s cap hit by $225,000. Any performance bonuses earned by Vesey would be eligible to count against the salary cap next season if they pushed the Flames over the $73 million cap for 2016-17. (Oh, and there’s roughly $13 million of pricey contracts coming off the books after this season, so it’s unlikely that a bonus overage charge from this season would hamstring the Flames in terms of next season’s cap.)

In short? Vesey would give the Flames more offensive depth and they can afford him.

THE FIT FOR VESEY

The pitch from Toronto and Boston for Vesey is probably pretty similar: come play for a storied Original Six team in an important hockey market. What they don’t mention is that Toronto can be a pressure cooker for young players, and players playing in their hometowns can often get pulled in a zillion different directions and have trouble focusing on their jobs.

In Calgary? The pitch is probably like this: come play for an up-and-coming team in a city where hockey matters. This city is a secondary Canadian media market, so there’s attention but it’s less of a pressure cooker for players. The team is full of good young talent, and the opportunity to carve out a role on a team on its way up would give Vesey a great opportunity to cash in here down the line or even move to a different market to do so. Would he be able to do that in Chicago or New York?

Oh, and it’s a chance to potentially get top six ice time with Tkachuk and Sam Bennett at even strength, and potentially with Gaudreau and Monahan on the power-play. For a guy who’s likely to get an incentive-laden contract, knowing you’ll get time to play with good players and on special teams will likely be pretty important.

IS IT LIKELY?

We haven’t heard much about Vesey and Calgary. Granted, Brad Treliving does his business on the sly, so I wouldn’t be shocked if he signed here. That said, he’s a kid from out east who likely wants to play out east. But considering the composition of the Flames roster, their cap situation and the opportunities he could be provided while wearing the Flaming C on his chest, don’t completely rule out the possibility he could end up in Calgary.

I just wouldn’t bet on it.

  • MontanaMan

    Vesey has some talent but I struggle with his character. David Poile commands a lot of respect in the league and he had very strong words for Vesey and his representatives. I’m one who believes you build your team on character as much as on talent and a kid that age that snubs Nashville and likely Buffalo “looking for the right scenario” rubs me the wrong way and is likely foreshadowing for future issues.

    • Greatsave

      For me, it wasn’t so much the “I don’t want to play here” as it was the flip-flopping that left Nashville hanging at the trade deadline. I can see why Poile would be mad if he felt Vesey led him on.

      On the other hand, I’m willing to give Vesey the benefit of the doubt, that he genuinely just changed his mind (people can do that, right?), until further evidence comes out showing that he intended to lead Poile on.

    • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

      People spoke about Lindros’s lack of character too and he is in the Hall of Fame!
      Why is it a lack of character doing what Vesey is doing? If anything it shows he has strong character?

  • Just.Visiting

    After seeing the interface with both Nashville and Buffalo, I have a red flag about whether Vesey should be part of what the Flames are trying to create.

    That might be unfair, but I’d be reviewing the possibility through the filter that he’d have to prove fit to me. In other words, if I have any lingering concerns on that front about him or his agent, I don’t bite.

    Contrast his approach with Janko’s. Jay Feaster dug him a hole with his over the top comments at the draft, and there’s been a lot of negative comments about his draft placement ever since. In Janko’s position, many of us would potentially have done what Vesey has done and checked out the market.

    Yet, Janko has appeared to do nothing but take the high road and he has matured into an intriguing prospect. Say what you want, but you can’t buy size, smarts or hands, and he seems to have all three. He has the added bonus of having played in a system that forced him to develop a defensive game.

    If we’re looking for someone to try on the LW, why not have a look at Janko too at the upcoming camps?

  • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

    Calgary should try and sign him . They are not exactly loaded up on the wing. He’s got ok size for a young guy. Another thing Calgary needs.
    ( now someone will reply that the league is trending towards smaller skilled forwards) Seriously would make this team

    Another thing Calgary needs is someone on the cheap . They don’t exactly have much money to toss around either.

  • Slowmo

    I ask each and every one of you to put yourselves in Vesy’s shoes you have the opportunity to go where ever your little heart desires. Every NHL team will give you the world and of course you have the option to play for the team you have loved your whole childhood 99.9 % of you would jump on it. don’t tell me you would wouldn’t now saying that I applaud JH and Janko and Arnold for staying with the team they got drafted by thank god.

    For sure Vesey will not sign in a small Hockey market like ours or even come here why would you choose to play in no mans land instead of the music city? Boston is his home it would be a huge surprise if he goes to NY or Buff when your heart belongs to Another teams?

    I believe that Providence would have won everything had Janko not gotten sick he was the power forward and play maker for providence in my opinion had he played he would have gotten the goal they needed and the defence to put a stop to the goal they got. 😉

  • Slowmo

    I forgot to mention the NHL should stop drafting these kids and wasting a draft pick the Flames have 2 more College kids again this yr and 1 ready to play next yr. We stand the chance of losing every 1 of them if they choose to go else where. Now Hicky is a western Canada kid born in Alberta but if he is a Oilslick fan we could lose him to Edmonchuck how scary is that.There should be some kind of protection against these rules that the Colleges of drummed up STOP Drafting them. Then they can deside to go where ever they want no harm no foul. I bet we lose Fox he will us his inherited right and run to the East.

    • McRib

      You understand Johnny Gaudreau would not be on this team if we refused to take a calculated risk on talented NCAA bound players….. Do you honesty understand how rare it is for an NCAA prospect to not commit to the team that drafted them? In the last decade there have only been three or four players Wheeler, Schultz, Hayes, Vesey to go this route, every single other prospect has committed to the team that drafted him, other than over-sensationalism by the media the risks are very low.

      I mean looking at an Adam Fox there is no way he lasts four years in the NCAA, he just set an all-time record for points for a US National Team Program defenseman. That’s a risk I am willing to take, looking at Mitchell Mattson… Why wouldn’t a Minnesota kid not want to play in a Hockey market that is only a two hour flight from home?

  • McRib

    Mark Jankowski’s NHL Draft +2 NHLE 21.6, +3 NHLE 24.5.
    Jimmy Vesey’s NHL Draft +2 NHLE 22.41, +3 NHLE 23.9.

    Jimmy Vesey is a top prospect in Hockey and yet Mark Jankowksi is a nothing prospect for some reason. I watched Harvard a couple times the last few years Vesey got insane ice time 30+ minutes a night, yet Jankowski was putting up 40 points with at most 16-18 minutes a night last year as Providence rolled all four lines being three times as deep as Harvard. Jankowski is also still incredibly underdeveloped compared to Vesey and will still add 10-15 pounds of muscle and further coordination in the next couple of seasons. Time will tell if Jankowski becomes a legit NHLer, but I have a hard time seeing him not end up as a Joe Colborne worse case, whereas people have already written in Vesey as being some star in the making. Vesey didn’t break a point per game in the NCAA until he was almost 22 years old (Jankowksi was 18 months younger and was likely another year or two underdeveloped on top of that during their senior seasons last year)!!!

    Vesey honestly didn’t even come off the ice at times playing the entire two minutes of every powerplay the last two years, whereas Jankowski wasn’t even on his teams second Powrplay some games. Mark Jankowski has an NCAA Championship in his time at Providence and Vesey never finished higher than third in the ECAC with Harvard (finishing 11th and 12th two of four years). Vesey was a decent player on a bad team who padded his stats against the Browns, Princeton, RPIs of the world with way too much ice time. Anyway Jankowksi aside Vesey has a long way to go for me to think he is some star prospect in the making. I’ve seen this happen all too often with Justin Schultz, Drew LeBlanc, etc. I mean even when NCAA FAs do rarely pan out (about 8-10% of the time) like Danny Dekeyser they are so overhyped when they reach RFA/UFA status they end up signing for contracts no where close to actual value ($5 Million for a 25-30 point mediocre second pairing defender?!?!?). The absolute kicker is NCAA Free Agents get all the hype that they do and CHL FAs get zero hype… Who are the two best undrafted NHLers… Oh yeah Mark Giordano, Tyler Johnson CHL Free Agents,

    • jupiter

      I agree.Jankowski,s development in Providence was more beneficial, playing on all 4 lines.

      He is the player I can’t wait too see in training camp.

      I would take Jankowski over Vesey every time.

  • Slowmo

    Well Mcrib I think it will be happening more and more now that the media makes such a big deal about it. I think the only reason JH did sign with the Flames is because we burned 1 of his entry level yrs or he would have passed he now gets the huge payday 1 yr earlier just my opinion. Like I said before on Janko I think they would have won it all had Jan been healthy he was a huge part of the teams success. JMO.