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Rangers sign restricted free agent Jimmy Vesey

Jimmy Vesey of the Rangers skates against the

Jimmy Vesey of the Rangers skates against the Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 23, 2017. Credit: Errol Anderson

The Rangers avoided arbitration with restricted free agent forward Jimmy Vesey when the team signed him to a two-year contract Tuesday worth $4.55 million. His average salary and his cap hit will be $2.275 million.

Vesey becomes the second arbitration-eligible free agent to be signed by the club. Forward Vladislav Namestnikov signed a two-year, $8 million deal on July 1, the first day of the free agent signing period.

Vesey, 25, played 79 games with the Rangers in 2017-18, scoring 17 goals with 11 assists (28 points) and accumulating 20 penalty minutes. His goals and point totals were career highs, and his four game-winning goals were tied for the team lead.

A 6-3, 206-pounder, Vesey has played 159 NHL games since signing with the Rangers as a free agent in 2016 after winning the Hobey Baker Award with Harvard. He has scored 33 goals, with 22 assists and 46 penalty minutes in his two seasons.

Vesey originally had been drafted in the third round in 2012 by the Nashville Predators, but he chose not to sign with them and let the team know he would instead become a free agent. The Predators traded him to Buffalo, but Vesey didn’t sign with them either. When he became a free agent later that summer, he signed with the Rangers.

With Namestnikov and Vesey signed, the Rangers still have defenseman Brady Skjei and forwards Kevin Hayes and Ryan Spooner as restricted free agents who are arbitration-eligible. Skjei has an arbitration hearing July 31, Hayes has his date set for Aug. 2, and Spooner’s is set for Aug. 4.

New York Sports