Kristian Vesalainen is a very good young player and yet the argument can be made that even if he can play at the NHL level, he should spend the season in the AHL. There are two simple reasons for this.
The first reason is that his contract will slide a year. The slide rule is often talked about in relation to junior players, but applies to any teenager. This means that as long as Vesalainen does not play ten games this year, his contract slides. On a team that is either in a cap crunch or will enter one soon, having a player on his entry-level contract for an extra season is huge. The Jets stand to gain a better player on an ELC for three years than a rookie season that could go either way. The Jets should save the money now.
The Expansion Draft
There will be another NHL Expansion Draft soon and that means protection lists. The rules are assumed to be the same as last time which means ELCs are not in need of protections which means...Vesalainen being on his ELC for an extra year allows the Jets to protect one more player. Even if he shows to be NHL ready after nine games, will he be that much better than a player like Mason Appleton who will have to be protected at the end of his ELC either way and the Jets cannot extend it for a year, to justify Vesalainen being in the NHL over him.
Abundance of Forwards
The Jets have an abundance of forwards and Vesalainen is not vital to the Jets season. When Nic Petan come back (I am working off the assumption that the NHL granted him non-roster player status), it would make sense to send Vesalainen down because he does not need waivers and it will keep him on his ELC for a year longer.
Kristian Vesalainen might be a NHLer right now and that is good. It would be beneficial to the Jets in the long term to have Vesalainen spend the season in the AHL on multiple fronts. It might seem a bit underhanded to keep him out of the NHL so they can have him for an extra season, but the CBA allows for it and the Jets should take advantage. It might even help Vesalainen in the end.