Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli has, rightfully in most cases, taken a lot of heat the last few seasons for his transactions. One set of things you really can’t get on him for? His ability to rebuild the system of the Oilers. Although it is very much still a work in progress, the drafting has gotten better and Edmonton has made an effort to acquire more NCAA and junior graduates turning pro.
One of those players was Nolan Vesey, acquired via trade from Toronto back in June. It was a little discussed trade at the time, and seems to be the forgotten transaction from the summer. It’s understandable why, because Vesey isn’t expected to make the NHL this season and isn’t a prospect with eye-popping numbers or high as the sky potential.
The former USPHL turned NCAA forward will begin his pro journey in the AHL this season, having signed a two-year entry level contract with the Oilers after coming over in the aforementioned trade.
So…..Just Who Is Nolan Vesey?:
Vesey was a four year forward for Maine, which plays in the Hockey East Conference in the NCAA. At U-Maine, Vesey never emerged as an impact offensive player. In fact, he never once hit the point-per-game mark as he topped out at 25 points as a senior in 2017-18.
His offensive production, while average at best, was at least consistent. He scored 23 points twice (2014-15, 2016-17) with an eleven point campaign sandwiched in the middle (2015-16). In the end, Vesey set his career mark last season, potting eleven goals and adding 14 assists for 25 points in 37 games.
The Maple Leafs were willing to deal Vesey for next to nothing (conditional 2020 seventh rounder) for a few reasons. Chief among them is the lack of offense and the apparent lack of ability in that area of the game for Vesey. He’s simply not going to make the NHL as an impact offensive player. In fact, his ceiling is likely that of a fourth line winger.
The other main reason? Toronto is in the spot Edmonton could be in pretty soon, with a ton of young forwards breaking into the pro ranks and not enough space for all of them.
Edmonton has the space right now, and can give Vesey a chance at the pro level. There is absolutely no risk in acquiring and playing him, perhaps in a more offensive setting he’ll have a better chance to produce and develop.
On Vesey from Hockey’s Future:
Vesey is the son of former NHLer Jim Vesey and brother of 2015-16 Hobey Baker award winner Jimmy Vesey. He is an offensive oriented forward with soft hands but also plays with some grit. Vesey dominated players at the prep school and junior hockey level with his size advantage but has yet to show that same type of offensive dominance in his first two seasons of college hockey. He has time to develop the other areas of his game in his two remaining seasons at the University of Maine.
And from Faceoffcircle.ca:
Even with his father still being in the Leafs organization, I can’t see anything short of a miraculous spike season leading the team to give him an entry-level deal. He doesn’t score enough to be on many NHL radars, and he’s not spectacular enough at anything to find himself a niche role. Perhaps he gets himself an AHL contract to prove himself in a third or fourth line setting in 2018/19, but I’m not even sure the Marlies would be the team that gives him that. I’d probably consider him out of sight, out of mind at this point.
What Can We Expect?:
Vesey will be in camp with the Oilers next week, and will likely be heading to Bakersfield shortly after. He really doesn’t have a chance to make the NHL roster this fall, and likely won’t get many looks in camp. I wouldn’t be stunned to see him play in one or two preseason games but that’s it.
Vesey will make his money in the AHL this season, and that is where he needs to shine in order to move up the prospect rankings. He’ll likely be slotted behind prospect Tyler Benson, but after that it’s a wide open road for Vesey. Bakersfield is weak on the left side, and it isn’t crazy to imagine him getting some top-six minutes should he start off strong.
I think a solid year for Vesey would be to earn a full-time role in Bakersfield, playing in the Condors’ top-nine forward group. Earning a role for the club while playing at least a modest amount would suggest that Vesey has gotten his footing as a pro and would indicate the club values him as a prospect.
In terms of production, I think expecting between 25-35 points is probably fair for this player. Remember, Maine isn’t exactly an offensive powerhouse, and while the Condors aren’t either they are still a better spot for production.