Jimmy Vesey has taken alot of flak lately, but for all the right reasons. As recently, as two weeks ago Predator’s GM David Poile and company had been hammering Vesey in the media. The Harvard Senior captain and two time Hobey Baker finalist had informed the Predators he would not be signing in Nashville, choosing instead to become a free agent on August 15th.
To understand why Vesey opted to return for his senior season, it would help to understand Hobey Baker himself. The award, given annually to the top college hockey player in the land that exemplifies character, ability, and leadership was named after the Princeton and St Paul’s graduate who had fought and died in World War 1. Baker was a quiet and humble man and regularly visited the opponents’ locker room each game to shake hands.
While many people in the hockey community have seen Vesey play, they don’t quite know the man himself. Vesey is a soft spoken, quiet young man. He attended Belmont Hill, a prep school that boasts St. Paul’s as one of it’s biggest rivals. It has been said that during his final year at Belmont Hill, in a player’s only meeting, Vesey suggested the team not keep individual stats opting instead to focus on becoming a better team. It was this type of mentality that contributed to NHL scouts missing the train on Vesey in his draft year as they were not fully aware of his statistical impact.
Over the last several seasons Princeton rival Harvard has experienced a hockey revival. They have consistently been one of the top hockey programs in the country and the ECAC in general boasts two of the past four national champions in Union and Yale. In fact, 7 ECAC teams in 2015-2016 have spent time in the top 20 of the Pairwise rankings, and Jimmy Vesey has been the league’s best player lifting the Crimson to new heights.
It can be argued that no college hockey player has shown more dedication to his school, teammates, and education than Jim Vesey. He has been nominated as a finalist for the senior class “class” award at one of the most prestigious universities in the world that boasts many of it’s future leaders in business, science, and politics.
Most parents would dream to have a child graduate Harvard. With Jimmy Vesey deferring two opportunities to cash an NHL paycheck and prioritizing his graduation over the NHL on his birthday no less, it has become apparent Vesey truly epitomizes the character and qualities of Baker himself. Come August 15th, 29 NHL teams will pick up the phone looking for a talented hockey player. What they are rewarded with could very well be an exceptional human being.
This year’s free agency was certainly interesting, but one thing I’ve learned from free agency over the years is: there is no good signing or bad signing, not until the play justifies the money. Essentially it means, there aren’t any amazing signings yet, not until these deals are two or three years in (or half way through the season if they are only for one year.) But we can assume what signings will most likely turn out great (keep in mind the hype that David Clarkson and Ville Leino got and how they have been for their teams so far. So nothing is set in stone.) I’m going to take a look at the Montreal Canadiens and how they did. I will post an article later on how I think the Leafs did and then free agency all together. So let’s be off!
C Manny Malhotra
D Tom Gilbert
D Mike Weaver
G Joey Macdonald
F PA Parenteau
F Mike Blunden
F Brain Gionta
F Thomas Vanek
D Josh Georges
F Danny Briere
In my opinion, Montreal lost a lot more than they gained. They lost a top six forward, a top four defenseman and their captain. The Montreal lineup is still very strong without those players but not as strong as they were when they went to the eastern conference finals. Losing Vanek was a big loss but with Marc Bergevin was able to get PA Parenteau to fill in the top six role that Vanek once had (at the cost of clutch performer Danny Briere.) So I’m not all too disappointed to lose Vanek. Now Brain Gionta was a fan favorite to many Montreal Canadiens’ fans but to be honest I think it was time we moved on. His play is diminishing and the role he played was to feed the puck and pump up the squad when they were down. He played on the third line and the money he was asking for was not worth it knowing that he was going to be on the third line.
Would you honestly put Gio over Gallagher and Parenteau? I didn’t think so. Maybe that third line role can be filled out better with an up and comer. Best of luck to Gionta in Buffalo! Next big piece that the Habs lost was Josh Georges. I hate this move compared to the rest of the pieces they have lost so far this off season. There was the whole situation where Montreal wanted to trade him to Toronto for a roster player. I was relieved when I heard that he didn’t accept it. Then on July 1st I heard that he got traded I was sadden. I understand that they wanted to free up some cap room but I still loved Georges. In all honesty Georges was probably their best consistent defensive defenseman (emphasis on consistent and on defensive.)
Montreal did add some good pieces in the process. I love adding center man Manny Malhotra. He was one of my favorites to watch when Vancover had their cup run. I always thought he was a highly valuable asset because of his dominance in the faceoff circle and in the penalty kill. When he was taken out of hockey because of that devastating eye injury I was stunned and scared for him. When I saw that happen I was scared for not only his ability to see but I had a bad feeling he might never play hockey again. That’s why I was over the moon to see the great comeback season he had with the Hurricanes. Now I’m stoked to have him on the Habs! He is a natural leader and he can really get the guys to rally behind him. He also a great role model for the younger players and he can help captain the already great penalty kill that the Habs have. He also relives the key defensive face offs from Tomas Plekanec .
Tom Gilbert is a defense man that I do like, but he is kind of a tossup. I hope he can help fill that void that Georges left. I like the Macdonald signing, he can help challenge the Bulldogs and gives them even more depth (Carey Price, Peter Budaj , Dustin Tokarski and now Macdonald.) So that’s more of a depth signing. Parenteau like I said before fills that top six spot that Vanek left behind. But Marc Bergevin can’t be done yet, there are still some areas that need to be improved. But overall I feel that more is needed to be done to fill those voids that have been left. Let’s hope that it can be done sooner than later.
Do you agree with ISS? Let’s us know what you think, comment below!