Thursday, December 2

After a ‘chaotic’ year, Jimmy Vesey is ready for a shot at a new deal with Devils


NEWARK, NJ – In the second episode of the Amazon Prime Original documentary series, “All or Nothing: Toronto Maple Leafs,” fans are taken inside Jimmy Vesey’s brief tenure in 2021.

“We brought you here with a good chance in wanting you to make a difference,” coach Sheldon Keefe tells Vesey after taking him aside for a heads up. “I want to be sure you know, it was very vanilla.”

At the end of the 46-minute episode, Vesey heads west after the Canucks picked him up with waivers.

“Yeah, it was tough. It was my first midseason move. I had been traded before, but it was in the summer, so it was a bit stressful,” Vesey said. “I guess overall, last year seemed pretty long to me. I had gone to Toronto two months before the season and then obviously halfway through I finished in Vancouver and we had a closed COVID while I was there. The season was extended. So it’s a difficult year, sometimes stressful … a bit chaotic but happy to be here. “

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Here is New Jersey. Standing in front of reporters in the bowels of the Prudential Center during media day, the 28-year-old sports a red sweatshirt with “Devils Hockey” printed on the front and his (new) number 16 on the corner. But a future at Garden State is not guaranteed for the 2016 Hobey Baker award winner. He’s in a PTO.

“He has to reinvent himself. He has to be really good defensively. He has to be a good special teams player. He has to contribute physique, which I think he can. I’ve seen Jimmy play with a lot of bite and that’s an area I think it can help our club, “said Devils coach Lindy Ruff, who was Alain Vigneault’s assistant staff in New York during Vesey’s NHL second and third-year seasons.

“He knows that he’s desperate to earn a job on this team and he has to earn a job; I’ll just say that. There are other young guys who will push him for that very position and I think inside he realizes that this is an opportunity to him. I can’t screw up. “

General manager Tom Fitzgerald said that while Vesey was hired to push the rest of the group and create competition, there is “an opportunity here to be part of the team,” adding that he is not “whistling ‘Dixie’ here,” to show that he is serious.

So far, things look promising for Vesey, who had three points in the first team fight of the preseason. It goes back to a guy who was a highly sought-after prospect once his four years at Harvard came to an end. He also recalls a winger who scored 90 points (50 goals, 40 assists) in three seasons, 35 in 2018-19, where he “thought he figured it out”, across the Hudson River with the Rangers.

However, the last two years were anything but ideal: 30 points in 114 games between the Sabers, Maple Leafs and, their last stop, the Canucks.

“They picked me up on waivers and I thought it was a great opportunity. I had four games and I thought I played well and then the COVID shutdown deflated everyone,” Vesey recalled. On March 31, the Canucks-Flames game was suspended an hour after the puck dropped, beginning a nearly one-month suspension of the Vancouver season.

(Courtesy: Andrew Maclean / New Jersey Devils)

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It just added another tough layer to an already difficult 2021 for the Massachusetts native. He was in Canada two months before the season began, and stayed until the end of the extended season, without the possibility of family or friends residing in the United States visiting him.

“It was a long year,” he said. “I think there was also some anxiety that came with that, especially down the stretch in Vancouver. The shutdown was pretty brutal to be honest. I never actually had COVID at the time, but I still wasn’t allowed to leave more than to get rubbed.

“I felt like the walls were closing in on me on the points and we ended up having to play, I think 19 games in 30 or 31 days, so it was a lot to handle. I’m stronger after going through that.”

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A stronger, more focused Vesey is certainly someone who could help a young Devils team seeking their first postseason appearance since 2018, and only their second since a spot in the 2012 Stanley Cup final. sign a new contract, you would be expected to do so. play a role of the last six on the wing and at the same time see penalty duties. In 30 games with the Leafs, he ranked 10th in reduced total ice time (25:31) and was second on the Canucks in power play goals for 60 minutes (3.81) despite playing just 20 games and 31: 31 by SH TOI. .

In the Devils’ preseason game against the Capitals on Wednesday, Vesey skated on the wing with captain Nico Hischier in the center and 2019 draft pick Graeme Clarke on the right wing. He was on the ice for an even force goal and a power play against over the course of his 15:46 – 2:44 of that while the team was short-staffed.

“You need to find something that’s your thing,” Keefe told Vesey, who was struggling to find her game, and maybe some confidence, with Toronto.

Well maybe is it’s what will help Vesey win his next NHL contract.




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