Jimmy Vesey chooses New York Rangers in free agency

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TAMPA, FLORIDA - APRIL 08: Jimmy Vesey of Harvard University and Hobey Baker Award winner poses with the trophy after the 2016 Hobey Baker Memorial Award ceremony at Tampa Theatre on April 8, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.The Hobey Baker Award is given to college hockey's best player. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The New York Rangers have won the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes.

Late Friday afternoon the team announced it had signed the prized college free agent, who was picked by the Nashville Predators in the third-round of the 2012 NHL Draft, to an entry-level deal.

After Vesey informed the Predators in late March of his intention to go to free agency, it started intense speculation on where the 23-year-old Harvard product would land. Vesey officially hit the open market Tuesday.

The Buffalo Sabres acquired Vesey’s rights earlier in the offseason and tried to sign the player before he was free to talk with other teams. The Boston Bruins were considered a front-runner at one point. The Toronto Maple Leafs pushed for him with 2016 No. 1 pick Auston Matthews. The Chicago Blackhawks put a hard pitch on Vesey and were reportedly a finalist for his services before the player chose the Rangers. Superstar Patrick Kane was part of the contingent the Blackhawks sent to meet with Vesey.

Meanwhile a group of Rangers celebrity fans, like New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard, actor Jerry Ferrara and local radio host Boomer Esiason tweeted at Vesey to head to the Big Apple.

New York offered Vesey a playoff contender, a path for “immediate playing time” and a chance to play with All-Star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Also, the Rangers have experience with players like Vesey.

New York has often been active in college free agency, and successfully lured Kevin Hayes to the organization in 2014.

What can Vesey bring to the Rangers next season and can he make an immediate impact?

Last season he had 24 goals in 33 games for Harvard while capturing the Hobey Baker Award. The last two years, he’s notched 104 points in 70 games played for the Crimson.

His ceiling isn’t completely clear since he hasn’t played an NHL game, but the Predators reportedly offered him a spot with the team’s top-six forwards before he opted to go the free agent path instead.

Still, it’s a low risk move for the Rangers, who will have Vesey at the salary cap hit of $925,000 for the next two seasons. This effectively ends the Rangers’ summer of moves with $2,500,000 of salary cap space heading into training tamp.

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!