Toronto Maple Leafs: Putting Jimmy Vesey on the PP Is the Best Option

Jimmy Vesey, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports)
Jimmy Vesey, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs signed Jimmy Vesey as an unrestricted free-agent in the off-season.

With just three points in 20 games, the Jimmy Vesey experiment hasn’t gone all that well, but he has played in every game, so the Toronto Maple Leafs coaches must see something they like.

One injury, two injuries, three injuries, four. At least the Toronto Maple Leafs still have their core. In response to the injuries, winger Jimmy Vesey will get a chance to play on the team’s top power-play unit.

While his counting totals don’t say that he has he earned the spot, after the many injuries, he becomes the best player available to play that spot.

Toronto Maple Leafs, Injuries and Jimmy Vesey

To give you a perspective of just how many injuries there are on the team, here they are:

  • 1st line LW, Joe Thornton              9 GP    3 G    6 A     9 P    +4
  • 2nd line LD, Jake Muzzin             19 GP    1 G  11 A  12 P    +6
  • 2nd line LW Zach Hyman            18 GP    4 G    6 A   10 P   +9
  • 3rd line RW Wayne Simmonds  12 GP    5 G     0 A    5 P    -4
  • 4th line LW Alex Barabanov          8 GP    0 G     0 A    0 P    -1

That doesn’t include injuries to Toronto’s young players like winger Nick Robertson and defenseman Rasmus Sandin. While it’s not as relevant to my point, their top two goalies are injured as well. In total, that’s seven skaters and two goalies missing from the Leafs’ lineup.

With that many holes in the lineup, most NHL teams would need to fold for a couple of weeks. For the Leafs, they are better off than most teams would be.

Jimmy Vesey’s history

Jimmy Vesey is a forward that had a ton of success in college but hasn’t been able to bring that success to the NHL. Over his last two seasons at Boston College, he averaged 1.49 points per game. That made him an attractive free agent after not signing with the Nashville Predators in 2016.

When he joined the New York Rangers, things didn’t go as planned. His high-profile potential turned into only 0.38 points per game in his three seasons with the team.

From there, he went to the Buffalo Sabres. There he put up 20 points in 64 games. Now, he resides with the Toronto Maple Leafs as a depth player. So far, he only has three points in 20 games.

Vesey’s role in the power play

Despite his lack of success at producing offense in the NHL, he is not a bad option for the Leafs’ power play. That’s because the Leafs don’t need another star on their power play. The team needs a body in front of the net to tip the puck and screen the goalie.

Vesey stands at six feet and three inches tall. That is enough to be a disruptive body in the front of the net. While he isn’t known for tipping pucks in, he is quick enough to find a rebound.

You won’t see as many passes down low as when Thornton was there, but that is ok. Toronto has elite players filling out the rest of the power play.  Superstars Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner will remain on the wings, with an offensively gifted defenseman Morgan Rielly at the point. Travis Boyd has been a pleasant surprise, and he centers the power play.

Vesey is a temporary power play man that will stand in front of the net. Who knows? Maybe that will be the spark he needs in his career?  Magically getting the spark in your career at 27-years-old is a stretch, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. The surrounding cast in Toronto is superior to that of the other two teams he played on. He can learn from the likes of Matthews, Thornton, and Simmonds.

The Toronto Maple Leafs tie for the top power play in the league despite going 0-7 on Monday. Their top power-play guys are healthy and will be in the lineup. There’s no reason to believe they will fall off a cliff now.

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Vesey has been waiting for a legitimate opportunity for the past four years. Now in his fifth year in the NHL, he gets the chance to showcase himself on a top-notch power play. While he won’t be a key contributor getting points, he can screen the goaltender and open opportunities for his teammates.