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Canucks claim Jimmy Vesey: Six things to know

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The 27-year-old has five goals and seven points in 30 games this season.

Winnipeg Jets v Toronto Maple Leafs
Jimmy Vesey #26 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Winnipeg Jets during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on March 13, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Jets defeated the Maple Leafs 5-2.
Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

The Vancouver Canucks have claimed Toronto Maple Leafs winger Jimmy Vesey off of waivers.

Vesey doesn’t have a long commute to make, as the Canucks announced that the Boston native will join the team today in Ottawa.

Here are six things to know based on Vesey’s performance this season with the Maple Leafs

1. He can score

Vesey has scored five goals in 30 games while playing in the Maple Leafs’ bottom six. That leaves him tied for sixth in team scoring with Jason Spezza and Wayne Simmonds, although Simmonds hit that mark in 12 games as opposed to 30.

Speaking of Simmonds, his return to the line-up from injury is one of the main reasons why Vesey is being waived. It also looks like the Maple Leafs want to give Alex Galchenyuk a shot. He hasn’t played since being claimed from Ottawa over a month ago.

Vesey is also tied for fourth on the Leafs with all five of his goals coming at even-strength. Only Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander are ahead of him.

You could argue that Vesey has been a bit lucky with his five goals so far. His shooting percentage at even-strength is high at 16.7%. He also has one of the lowest shots-per-60 rates among Leafs’ forwards.

2. Not a strong possession player

Vesey has been one of the least successful Leafs’ forwards in terms of possession this season.

His Corsi-percentage and scoring chances-for percentage are both bottom three among Maple Leafs who have played more than 10 games. His 44% goal differential is also the worst among Leafs forwards.

You could argue that he’s been perhaps a tad unlucky, as his expected goals percentage is 47.1% is slightly better, and it ranks 11th among 15 regular Leafs’ forwards.

If one thing is clear, however, it’s that he’s no defensive dynamite.

3. Ice time has dwindled despite “modest” improvement

Over his first 15 games this season, Vesey averaged 12:38 in ice time, with two goals and one assist.

Over his last 15, Vesey’s average ice time has dwindled to 9:35 per game.

He hasn't hit the 10-minute mark at all in his last six appearances, and he played a team-low 4:41 on March 11th against Winnipeg.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Edmonton Oilers
Jimmy Vesey #26 of the Toronto Maple Leafs awaits a face-off during the game against the Edmonton Oilers on March 1, 2021 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

4. No consistent linemates for Vesey

In 215 even-strength minutes this season, Vesey hasn’t spent more than 100 minutes with any Leafs forward.

His most common linemate has been Alexander Kerfoot, and the two have played together for 99 even-strength minutes this season. They have a 33% goal differential and a 40% expected goal differential together.

5. Plagued by inconsistency

Despite some flashes of the skills that helped him win the Hobey Baker Award in 2016, Vesey’s time in Toronto (and his entire NHL career, for that matter) has been mired by inconsistency.

It can be hard to make an impact when you’re a bottom-six forward who doesn’t get power play time, but that’s what Vesey has to do in order to stay in the NHL.

Looking at the metrics behind his game log is a bit of a roller coaster. In his last 20 games, he has exactly 10 games with an expected goals differential above 50%, and 10 below.

His last three games in Toronto, however, were a bit of a disaster. Despite playing some of the fewest minutes on the team, Vesey was on the ice for four even-strength goals during his last three games with the Maple Leafs.

6. Worth a gamble for the shallow Canucks

Despite Vesey’s flaws, can you tell me how many forwards in the Canucks bottom-six are better than Vesey?

Tyler Motte perhaps? Anyone else?

The Canucks have one of the worst bottom-six forward groups in hockey, making the gamble for claiming Vesey a worthy one.

At a cap hit of $900,000 that expires at the end of this season, there’s not much risk in seeing if Vesey is a better fit in the Canucks bottom-six over guys like Antoine Roussel, Brandon Sutter, Jake Virtanen, Zack MacEwen, and the rest of the underwhelming forward group.