Upon winning the Stanley Cup in 1994, New York Rangers broadcaster Sam Rosen exclaimed, “The waiting is over!” Fast forward to August 2016 and he, and all Rangers fans can repeat that sentence as the Rangers came to an agreement with prized rookie free agent Jimmy Vesey on a two-year, entry-level contract worth an annual average value of $925,000. The deal also includes $1,925,000 in performance bonuses per anum.
Vesey spent the week meeting with the Rangers, New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs, Chicago Blackhawks, New Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Boston Bruins.
The organizations pulled out their heavy-hitters, such as the Islanders’ John Tavares, Toronto’s Auston Matthews, and Chicago’s Patrick Kane, in an attempt to sway the recent Harvard graduate.
Boston brought Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Adam McQuaid, and Torey Krug, to its meeting with Vesey but it was all for naught.
In a Friday evening conference call, Vesey expressed his reasons for choosing the Big Apple.
“I talked to the New York Rangers and their staff and they don’t expect me to be a savior. (They) just want me to help them win hockey games,” Vesey said. “I am very pleased to be a part of the New York Rangers organization. Based on our talks I think New York was the right fit.”
“It was definitely a tough decision. Myself, my agent and my family were very impressed with the Rangers.”
While Vesey went through the interview process, many believed he would sign with various organizations based on his friendships with players and/or members of their managements.
With the Rangers, it was fellow Massachusetts native Kevin Hayes who spoke with Vesey on what to expect if the soon-to-be NHLer signed with New York.
“Obviously, I’m good friends with Kevin Hayes,” Vesey explained. “He’s someone I’ve known since childhood. We played a little bit together growing up and we work out and skate together in the summer.”
“I talked to Kevin a lot,” said Vesey, who played a role in Team USA’s gold medal win at the 2013 World Junior Championships. “He went through the same process as me two years ago (Hayes was drafted by Chicago but chose to sign with the Rangers after his senior season at Boston College), so I leaned on him a lot during the process. He had a big impact on me.”
Influence also came in the form a former New York captain and New England native Chris Drury, who hails from Connecticut, like Vesey he won the Hobey Baker Award, which goes to the outstanding NCAA player each season.
“Chris Drury was someone I was really impressed with during the meeting with the Rangers,” said Vesey. “He’s someone I respect a lot based on what he’s done in his career.”
To say that Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton was a happy would be a big understatement.
“It’s a very exciting day for us,” said Gorton. “”He (Vesey) has the ability to score, make plays. I think he can come in and play.”
Due to the salary cap, the NHL has become a younger league than it was before it was instituted in 2004. All of the clubs have been forced to shed veteran players and bring in younger, less experienced athletes. The same is true for New York. Signing the highly-touted Vesey gives them a high draft pick (3rd round, 66th overall to Nashville, 2012 NHL Entry Draft) without trading a pick or players and unlike most draft picks coming out of junior or leaving college early, the forward is ready for top six minutes and responsibilities.
“It was an opportunity with a real good player that became available and help replace some of the depth we had in the past,” said Gorton. “We’re really excited to get a player like this.”
“Training camp is almost upon us, we’ll see where it goes. We think we have some good youth and this helps with that.”
Follow ESPN New Hampshire’s NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.