A report from Bob McKenzie yesterday pointed out the dots connecting the Maple Leafs’ hiring of Jim Vesey as an amateur scout earlier this year to the possibility of his son, Jimmy Vesey Jr., hitting free agency this summer following the conclusion of his college career.
Understandably, there’s been murmurs about this rumour since the Leafs‘ hiring of Jim Vesey Sr. came to light on the team’s website sometime in the spring or summer.
The younger Jim Vesey, a 22-year-old 6’1 left winger, was drafted by the Predators in the third round of 2012. His plus-one and plus-two numbers were solid if unspectacular, but he broke out in a big way in his junior year, and is now following it up with a great start to his senior season.
While former third round picks putting up big numbers at ages 21 and 22 has to be kept in perspective, Vesey has 37 goals and 69 points in his last 43 games. Last season, Harvard earned its first NCAA tournament berth since 2006 after winning the ECAC championship. Vesey was named the ECAC Hockey Player of the Year and the ECAC Hockey Tournament MVP. Over the ECAC finals weekend, Vesey scored four goals in two games.
Vesey hasn’t been signed to an entry-level contract yet, and we all know what that means after a full college stint – the option of NHL unrestricted free agency.
While Predators GM David Poile sounds as though he’s doing everything in his power to convince Vesey to sign with the team that drafted him, anyone who by this point thinks Vesey signing with the Leafs doesn’t have a fair to strong chance of happening must be unaware of Mark Hunter’s well-established history of recruiting players through beguiling methods.
While McKenzie has the story on Shanahan’s indirect connection to Vesey, and mentions the club is saying it was Vesey who approached them about a scouting job (the effect in regards to the 2016 Vesey sweepstakes is the same regardless), there’s an exact parallel for this situation in recent London Knights history.
In 2005, Sam Gagner was expected to commit to the University of Madison-Wisconsin, dropping him down to the fourth round of the OHL draft, where London selected him. That’s been a familiar story over the years, but then there’s this same wrinkle: Next thing you know, Sam’s dad, former NHLer Dave Gagner, becomes an assistant coach for two seasons in London starting the summer of ’06. Sure enough, Sam decides to throw on the Knights jersey in 2006-07 and rips the league to shreds to the tune of 118 points in 53 games.
Jimmy’s brother, Nolan, is already Leaf property by way of the sixth round in 2014. Nolan was drafted as a 19 year old after getting passed over in 2013, and went on to post similar numbers to his two-years-older brother in a comparison of their freshman seasons in the ECAC. He’s had a very rough start to his sophomore season in Maine, however, with just one point in 12 games.
A situation that will only gain steam, no doubt, as the 2015-16 college hockey season progresses.
Other Leafs and Marlies News:
Word out of @theScore is Justin Bourne has been hired by the Toronto Marlies.
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) November 25, 2015
Hearing Bourne will join Marlies coaching staff, with video coach Ryan Ward moving up to join the Leafs. Another loss for the media wing.
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) November 25, 2015
Congrats to @jtbourne on his new role with Toronto Marlies. Will miss his his writing/analysis. A really great hockey man, even better guy.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) November 25, 2015
Mackenzie Lidell: NHL quarter mark report: Toronto Maple Leafs (Sportsnet)
Another key development under Babcock has been the renaissance of Dion Phaneufand Joffrey Lupul. The Leafs are getting much more out of the two veterans, who were coming off arguably the worst seasons of their careers.
James Mirtle: Maple Leafs get their quarter-season report card (The Globe and Mail)
The Leafs are a more structured puck-possession team – although that has been slipping of late. Their special teams are good and beginning to produce better results than they have in years. The Leafs have also generated more scoring chances than they give up.
Curtis Rush: James Reimer skips Leafs practice but team isn’t pushing panic button (Toronto Star)
“Lot of these injuries that happen in practice, you get scared and you scare yourself,” Babcock said. “You get off and you find it’s not quite as bad, so after I talked to you guys (reporters), that’s what the trainers told me yesterday.”
Kyle Cicerella: Maple Leafs’ Grabner aiding team’s penalty kill (CTV News)
Grabner’s opportunities to score with Toronto have been minimal, despite having the ability to do so, and the Leafs have had difficulty as a group scoring goals — sitting 25th in the league with just 2.23 per outing. He has had just 40 seconds of power-play time all season and is averaging only 11:54 of time on ice, the least amount of his seven-year career.
Jonas Siegel: Leafs’ top pair adjusting to demands of their role (TSN)
In addition to the more straining minutes at even-strength, both players are killing penalties extensively. Of the two, Hunwick has been the more effective and leads the Leafs currently in shorthanded ice-time.