Burke: Vesey will ‘make a difference’ but college free agent contributions equal a ‘pimple on an elephant’s butt’

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We’ve stated before in this space that Brian Burke has never been afraid to deliver some interesting, comical one-liners when expressing his opinion.

Asked this week for his take on how teams had been lining up to woo college free agent Jimmy Vesey — Sidney Crosby was part of Pittsburgh’s pitch for the Hobey Baker Award winner, Patrick Kane was part of Chicago’s pitch, and the list of stars from other NHL teams trying to sell Vesey on signing with them doesn’t stop there — Burke offered another doozy.

“If you look at the college free agents, they have made a dramatically insignificant contribution to our league,” Burke, the Flames president of hockey operations, recently told TSN.

Tyler Bozak might be the best one. Of the 100 or 150 that have signed, most have very little impact. I think this player (Vesey) is going to play and make a difference. I think he’s going to be a good player.

“But if you look at that group and the money the league has spent on those players and their contribution, it is a pimple on an elephant’s butt.”

Burke was GM and president of the Toronto Maple Leafs when they signed Bozak as a college free agent following two years with the University of Denver. He has since played in 435 NHL games with 107 goals and 267 points.

Justin Schultz is a former college free agent signing, as is Torey Krug with the Bruins, and Kevin Hayes in New York.

Burke’s remarks came prior to Vesey signing with the New York Rangers.

Prior to Vesey hitting free agency — he was drafted by Nashville but wouldn’t sign there, then had his rights traded to Buffalo as the Sabres tried, unsuccessfully, to get him under contract — the other highly coveted college free agent was North Dakota’s Drake Caggiula following a standout senior year. He eventually signed for two years in Edmonton.


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