There is no one specific favorite team to land college free agent Jimmy Vesey.
There are ideas and theories on where he could best fit, but ultimately teams have to hit the right notes when they talk with him next week, according to his representation. Currently the Buffalo Sabres hold the rights to Vesey and have put a hard pitch on the 23-year-old American winger. Reports of late have listed the Chicago Blackhawks as the main team lining up to pounce on Vesey, the 2016 Hobey Baker winner, when he hits the open market. Vesey can’t talk organizations other than the Sabres until he hits the open market on Aug. 16.
“I think there’s a lot of things out there that either aren’t true or people are just searching to say things. We’re still talking with Buffalo, who will be part of this process once free agency happens, if it happens, which I assume is going to happen,” Vesey’s agent Peter Fish told Puck Daddy. “Jimmy wanted to go to free agency all along. He wanted to see it through and, so Buffalo has always been a team that has interested him, but he wants to compare with a few other teams once it happens”
The Sabres acquired Vesey’s rights from the Nashville Predators earlier in the offseason and sent a contingent to Boston to meet with him. Despite Buffalo’s interest, Fish indicated that Vesey still wants to see what’s out there.
“Jimmy’s, he really is an interesting kid. He has been very quiet about it. He hasn’t talked much about it,” Fish said. “He and I and my other colleague Pete Donatelli, we talk to him maybe every week or so and kind of bounce things off. We’ve had some good discussions with the Sabres, but it’s not something that’s talked about every day. I think Jimmy just can’t wait to see all the options, hear everybody out and make his decision and then move on.”
Would the Predators still be in the mix if they had reacted differently to Vesey’s decision to go to free agency? After Vesey informed the team he would opt to wait until the summer free agent period to sign a contract, Nashville general manager David Poile ripped the choice, saying Vesey received “bad advice.”
Technically Nashville could have signed Vesey before the trade to Buffalo and they can still take another run at Vesey when he hits the open market. Nashville picked Vesey in the third-round of the 2012 NHL Draft and watched him blossom into one of the top collegiate prospects in the country. Last season he had 24 goals in 33 games for Harvard. The last two years, he’s notched 104 points in 70 games played for the Crimson.
“I don’t really talk about hypotheticals. I respect the Nashville franchise. They’re a great team, great organization and I wouldn’t have ruled anything out, I don’t think Jimmy would have ruled anything out either,” Fish said. “It’s just not something that has been discussed because we don’t have to discuss it.”
The rumor mill on Vesey has constantly churned since it became clear he would hit the open market. In late March the Boston Herald reported Vesey had his eye on the Bruins in free agency. A recent CSN New England report said the Bruins had fallen behind in the Vesey sweepstakes and his favorites include the Blackhawks, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils.
“We can, as his advisors and agents, we can look at teams and say ‘geez, that could be a good fit. Look a their depth chart,’ the whole nine yards and hope they call and then want to talk or meet with us, which I have no doubt, would be the case with most every team,” Fish said.
Fish added that Vesey won’t be hosting teams, but wouldn’t be shocked if some just happened to be in Boston next week.
“I assume to be honest that there may be some teams that anticipate that he would be a free agent and perhaps find their way into the city of Boston just because of the anticipation of what could happen,” Fish said.
Vesey is known as an understated thoughtful person and he’ll hit free agency during a slow news period in the offseason when he will be the main focus around the hockey world. Is he ready for the attention?
“I think Jimmy can handle anything. I think he would prefer to be under the radar,” Fish said. “He’s not the type of kid who enjoys necessarily being talked about all the time. He’s a good teammate, he’s a good kid. He’s pretty quiet and quietly goes about his business as a hockey player. He’s not afraid of the spotlight or anything like that. He’s a kid that probably prefers to fly under the radar a bit.”
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