Bruins Spurned By Vesey, And That’s Just Fine

Apr 7, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; A general view of the TD Garden before a game between the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 7, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; A general view of the TD Garden before a game between the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

A Realistic Approach To Why Bruins Are Fine Without Jimmy Vesey

“Awww, son of a _____,” I exclaimed, halfway through my BLT. News of Jimmy Vesey’s signing with the New York Rangers had just broken, and I (like all of Bruins Nation) sat in mild shock. In spite of CONSTANT reports of just how wide open the field was, deep down I always believed that the North Reading native’s plan all along was to sign with his hometown club.

As a lifelong Bruins fan, native New Englander, and former hockey player, I personally couldn’t fathom passing on the opportunity to play for the team I grew up worshipping. I spent the remainder of that sandwich ruminating on the fallout stemming from Boston’s swing-and-miss, and then came away with the (solemn) understanding that there are bigger fish to fry with this team. If the Bruins were a car, Jimmy Vesey would be a bodacious sound system: It’s a great addition to your car, but not if you’re missing a tire.

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Heading into the upcoming season, left wing is one of the organization’s biggest strengths. Brad Marchand, Frank Vatrano and Matt Beleskey all are deserving Top 9 left wingers. Danton Heinen had a tremendous sophomore campaign at the University of Denver, and was a stand out at the Bruins’ Development Camp. He is seemingly banging on the door as training camp approaches. 2015 First Round Pick Jake DeBrusk is right behind Heinen, after somehow managing a point-per-game pace in the WHL last season, despite playing through one of the most toe-curling, meal-churning injuries imaginable.

Jesse Gabrielle is looking to win the vacant left wing spot on the fourth line after amassing 40 goals and 101 PIM in the WHL last season. He claims to model his game after his favorite player (Brad Marchand), and it shows. He has showcased the ability to play on the edge, win battles, agitate, finish checks, and score goals. Could the B’s have found room for Vesey? Of course. Is the team’s positional depth taking a hit in his absence? Not in the least.

Beyond already fielding an array of established or promising left wingers, it’s important to note that the “Jimmy Vesey Hype Train’ has been barreling down the tracks this offseason. A combination of social media’s omnipresence, the questionable nature of the CBA loophole that allowed Vesey to become a free agent in the first place, as well as the timing of this charade (squarely in the “Dead Zone” of the NHL news cycle), propelled the Vesey saga to near Connor McDavid levels.

With all due respect to the 2016 Hobey Baker Award Winner, he’s no Connor McDavid. Nor is he Patrik Laine. He probably isn’t even Matthew Tkachuk. Jimmy Vesey is a very good player, that any team would be happy to add to their team. But with all the talk surrounding whether or not Vesey would welcome the “pressures of playing at home,” he could probably play on Tatooine at this point and expectations would be sky-high….not exactly a secure and fertile start to an NHL career.

Moreover, though Vesey’s ELC tops off at a $925,000 base salary, the deal he just signed with the Rangers offers up to $2.85 million in annual performance bonuses. And while the nature and details of these bonuses are not yet public knowledge, it’s safe to assume he won’t have to score 40 goals to start cashing in. There are always bonuses for games played, and even bonuses predicated upon team (not personal) success. In addition, individual performance bonuses for a rookie typically sit around 20 goals/40 points….very attainable numbers.

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I hate performance bonuses. Literal hate. It’s a subsequent reward for a player’s past contributions. As Bruins fans can recall, Jarome Iginla saddled the Bruins with $4.2 million worth of bonuses following the 2013-2014 campaign. That money counted against the cap-strapped Bruins while he was playing for a different team. It was a HUGE reason the Bruins had to trade Johnny Boychuk for a measly return, and correspondingly was one of the last nails in Peter Chiarelli’s coffin. With the back-end still being held together by duct tape, and extensions for Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, and Ryan Spooner due by July 1 of next year, rolling millions of dollars onto next year’s cap would be an irresponsible move from Don Sweeney and the Bruins brass.

In my opinion, the biggest impact Jimmy Vesey’s addition would have had on the Bruins pertains more to flexibility than performance. His inclusion (as well as David Backes’ versatility) would have enabled the Bruins front office to make a player like David Krejci, Ryan Spooner, or Frank Vatrano available to land that elusive Top 4 defenseman.

At the present time, removing any one of those players now creates a void on this year’s roster. If Krejci or Spooner are traded, Backes now HAS to play center, and the Bruins lose substantial impact and depth at right wing. Should Frank Vatrano be traded, the Bruins create a void at left wing, and would be shipping off a player who showed tremendous promise as a rookie.  If Danton Heinen proves to be this year’s Frank Vatrano, that could change by the trade deadline. Whether or not the Bruins are in a position to “buy” at the deadline remains to be seen. Nevertheless, the Bruins’ 2017 First Round Pick is now a mandatory piece in any package for a Top 4 defenseman.

Next: Wrong Team Sent To Woo Vesey?

Obviously I wanted Jimmy Vesey on this team. You wanted Jimmy Vesey on this team. Everyone who works or cheers for the Bruins wanted Jimmy Vesey on this team. Ultimately, Susan Sarandon and the bright lights of Broadway won out. And, like jilted lovers, it’s only natural for us to feel the sting of unrequited love. Be that as it may, I’d like to remind you of two things:

  1. The Bruins did not NEED Jimmy Vesey. He would have been a shiny new toy for an organization that needs a new kidney. Take a deep breath. Everything is ok.
  2. Jimmy Vesey exercised his right to pick whichever team he wished. And now you can exercise YOUR right to boo the Hell out of him every time he touches the puck. Unfair? Probably. But this is Boston….he should have known better.