The New York Rangers partially compensated Friday for trading their past four first-round draft picks by signing prized free agent Jimmy Vesey.
Inking a two-year, entry-level contract worth a total of $1.85 million and bearing an annual cap hit of $925,000, the 23-year-old Harvard grad leaps to the top of the Rangers’ prospect depth chart at left wing.
He joins a team that has used its late-round selections in recent years to ensure it has some promising prospects and projects in the pipeline.
Brandon Halverson tops the Rangers' strong group of goaltending prospects.
Without a doubt their strongest area, an encouraging group of goaltenders is establishing themselves at every level. Brandon Halverson has come off back-to-back successful seasons in the OHL, and will look to battle returning starter Magnus Hellberg and prospect Mackenzie Skapski for a job with the Hartford Wolf Pack. Igor Shesterkin has appeared in a minimal amount of games for the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg over the past two years, but has put up incredible numbers for St. Petersburg’s MHL and VHL affiliates. He has also been stellar in international appearances. Tyler Wall (UMass Lowell) and Adam Huska (Connecticut) will both play in the NCAA’s Hockey East this season. While Wall will have plenty of competition for the UMass crease, Huska should be a full-time starter for Connecticut within the next two years.
While some of New York’s defensive prospects have fairly high ceilings at the NHL level, there is a clear lack of future fantasy back-end stars. However, the majority of their blueline prospects have NHL size and are gifted skaters. Brady Skjei will battle Adam Clendening, Dylan McIlrath, and Nick Holden for the last three spots in the Rangers’ top six. Ryan Graves and Calle Andersson will see an increase in responsibility in their second year with the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, with Michael Paliotta also in the mix for a top-four spot. Leading the way in junior will be polarizing defenseman Sean Day and recently signed Sergei Zborovskiy. Tarmo Reunanen will also look to get back on track in Finnish organization TPS this season. The Rangers also signed free-agent defenseman John Gilmour. Gilmour, a former Flames’ draft pick, will most likely play for Hartford this season.
Among forwards, Vesey becomes the centerpiece as a shot-generating machine whose sniping is helped when he uses his 6-2, 201-pound body for puck possession and battling to acquire it. A reliable two-way player, Vesey will also help you on the power play. Pavel Buchnevich is a dynamic offensive talent built to produce in the modern NHL, he will likely slot immediately into the New York Rangers’ opening lineup. Nicklas Jensen will also vie for one of the final forward spots on the roster. Recently signed Robin Kovacs, Malte Stromwall, and Adam Chapie will all likely join an exciting Hartford lineup. 2012 second-round pick Cristoval Nieves, a personal favorite of mine, will look to build off his impressive tryout with the Wolf Pack last season while recent selections Brad Morrison, Tim Gettinger, and Gabriel Fontaine will see increased ice time with their respective junior teams. Sparkplug Ty Ronning will likely be one of the top scorers among the rebuilding Vancouver Giants.