It’s pretty bewildering to predict who will land Jimmy Vesey once he can sign somewhere starting on Aug. 15, unless you cheat and just say “not the Nashville Predators.”
CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty pegged the front-runners as the Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils earlier this week. That same report downplayed the Boston Bruins’ chances.
At certain points, we’ve heard about the merits of the Buffalo Sabres (who sent Nashville a third-rounder to grab Vesey’s negotiating rights) and Toronto Maple Leafs.
There are some mixed signals flying around, and Vesey’s agent Peter Fish kept things pretty vague while discussing various rumors with Puck Daddy.
“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,” Fish said. “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”
Good luck picking a favorite.
Instead, let’s consider what might factor into his decision.
What shouldn’t matter: money
Human nature dictates that cash is a usually a huge factor in these situations.
With the rookie maximum in mind, the Harvard graduate isn’t likely to worry too much about his entry-level contract, which makes for a more intellectually stimulating “bidding war.”
NHL.com’s thorough breakdown of possible landing spots touches on the surprising number of familial connections between Vesey and various teams.
His father, Jim Vesey, played for the Bruins at one point. He’s from the area and grew up a Bruins fan.
Toronto holds some edges over most teams, too. His father is a scout for the Maple Leafs and his brother Nolan Vesey is a draft pick of the team.
Both of those options seem like they’d count as big draws, which is why they were mentioned in many rumors, especially earlier on.
Read here and here for some great perspective regarding how much of an impact Vesey, 23, can really make in the NHL.
There’s a lot of hype surrounding the forward, yet breakdowns peg him in various ways, with comparisons ranging from a cheaper Joffrey Lupul or Tyler Bozak to a smaller Kevin Hayes. Leafs Nation explains why teams are so excited, though:
Here is the opportunity for an NHL team to add a legitimate top nine forward that isn’t going to require any protection in the expansion draft. Vesey isn’t just a found wallet, he’s a found wallet with a credit card that wasn’t cancelled. Heading into a year where teams are going to be panicked about what they are going to have to lose, here’s a chance to cut their loses ahead of time and with the best possible alternative, a good, cheap, young player that is potentially just entering his prime.
On one hand, you have better chances to win big, most notably with the Blackhawks. He may have a smaller margin of error there, but the lure of playing on a contender – possibly lining up with someone like Jonathan Toews – has to be strong.
The Rangers have been adept at integrating college talents (Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes) as well, and they’ve at least been a playoff team.
The Devils could feature him even more and look like up-and-comers after nabbing Taylor Hall. The Bruins and Maple Leafs shouldn’t struggle to find a spot for Vesey, either.
For all we know, a dark horse candidate could swoop in and “wow” Vesey.
It’s a murky situation, but it’s easier to narrow down what might factor into his decision.
At least, it seems that way.