So far, the players chosen for "UFA of the Day" have been pretty well known Sharks. As it stands, most FTF readers have agreed to keep Semenov and Roenick, while Grier was shooed off.
However, it will be interesting to see how this vote turns out, as I would imagine there are no strong emotions associated with Ryan Vesce.
If you could tell me who Ryan Vesce was before the beginning of the year, I'd give you five bucks. Well, no, I probably wouldn't. But I'd give you a hug. Just tell me where to mail it.
The 26 year old Vesce returned to the AHL in 2008 after a year in Finland, and proceeded to have his best statistical year as a pro. The New York native and four year NCAA player with Cornell University scored 71 points (24 goals) in 67 regular season AHL games, and 10 points in 12 AHL playoff games. In 10 games with the big club, Vesce didn't score any points, but impressed McLellan and his assistant coaches with his endurance and lightning quick skating stride.
During the AHL season, Vesce logged big minutes on both the PK and PP and served as captain for much of the season. He plays much bigger than his 5'8" 170 pound frame would suggest, and he's skilled in the face off circle.
We've been talking at length about the cap issues next season, and Vesce is exactly the type of player that we should be looking for. He's cheap (the $475,000 he made last year was the smallest salary on the team), young, and appears to be coming into his prime. However, there are a few things that diminish Vesce's value on the Sharks, and these factors may decide his fate with the organization.
First, Vesce is yet another pivot on a team ripe with center men. Thornton, Marleau, Pavelski, Goc, Mitchell, Roenick, Plihal, and Couture could all be competing for one of four center spots on the team. Although there is room for a little finagling, (moving one or two of them to the wing) not every center makes that transition as well as Marleau did. It's safe to say that we're pretty safe at center for the foreseeable future.
Second, although Vesce does play big, he's still small in stature. The Sharks were pushed around during the playoffs, and it's not known if Vesce will be able to push back on a consistent basis.
Third, Vesce's doppleganger just happens to be on the same team he's trying to make. Although Mitchell missed the regular season, he was able to show the organization that he's still the same player that everyone was so impressed with in 2007-2008. Mitchell is practically Vesce in a slightly larger package; he's a small, quick skater who plays well on the kill and brings fire to your lower lines. There's definitely room for the two of them, but there isn't necessarily a need for both.
All in all, I'm a Vesce supporter. At 26, he's not really a prospect, but he's shown improvement in each of his professional seasons. He brings leadership, grit, and skill to your team... if he was just a little bigger, he'd be an NHL veteran by now.
He might not make the team next year, but he can reprise his role as captain in Worcester until injuries or need at the NHL level lead to a call up. Having a player like Vesce in your coffers is the definition of "depth".
TCY's Final Offer: Two years at $650,000. Vesce had a good season last year and could probably command a bit more elsewhere, but the opportunity to play with the Sharks and former high school and college teammate Douglas Murray is too awesome to pass up.