Welcome back to the Jimmy Vesey watch where all the teams are trying to persuade the former Harvard University standout to begin his career in a city near you.
Now that he is officially a UFA, a good handful of teams around the National Hockey League are lining up in hopes of acquiring his services. From playing top-six minutes to joining current and future star players, to staying home or joining friends and family, Vesey, who tallied 104 points in his final two collegiate seasons, will hear plenty of pitches before making his decision.
The Bruins are just one of several reported teams that are interested in signing last year’s Hobey Baker winner. Other teams, like the Sabres, who acquired his rights from the Predators at this year’s Draft, Devils, Maple Leafs, Penguins, Rangers and Blackhawks have also been thrown into the Vesey watch saga.
Assuming the Bruins’ narrative of pitches are true, here’s a rating of the selling points that Don Sweeney will use in his pursuit of Vesey.
Growing up a Bruins fan, Jimmy Vesey could realize his dream of playing for his hometown team at TD Garden starting this fall. (Photo by Joe Makarski, Bruins Daily)
This one is, of course, a no-brainer. Vesey, a native of Charlestown, has stated that playing with the Bruins would be a dream come true. If he signs, he’d be in good company with other locals Jimmy Hayes (Dorchester) and Frank Vatrano (East Longmeadow).
While there’s no doubt that Vesey will go to a squad in hopes of making an immediate impact (more on that later), his future will also be a point teams try to sell him on. The Bruins have been trying to build up their pool of prospects since Sweeney took the reigns from Peter Chiarelli last year. While some of his draft picks over the last two years have been questionable, like Trent Frederic and the trio of 2015 first round selections, he might be onto something with some other selections like Brandon Carlo, Jakob Forsbecka-Karlsson and Charlie McAvoy.
Although the Bruins’ pool of prospects are improving since the Chiarelli days, other teams like the Sabres and Maple Leafs have players in their pipeline that are likely to contribute sooner rather than later.
Immediate impact: 8/10
Claude Julien shouldn’t hesitate putting Jimmy Vesey in the Bruins’ top six if he signs with the Black and Gold. (Photo by Joe Makarski, Bruins Daily)
Although Claude Julien relies more on veterans — especially on his top two lines and defensive pairings — there should be no hesitation from the 10th year Bruins coach in inserting Vesey into the top six. Whether it’s finally filling a long-needed void opposite Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, or fitting in with David Krejci and David Pastrnak, Julien has his options in where he slots Vesey. Assuming the B’s keep Ryan Spooner at center, there wouldn’t be too much competition for Vesey in playing top six minutes immediately. Where he would slot on the power play or penalty kill, however, would be anyone’s guess.
Roster depth: 5/10
Aside from the top core members like Pastrnak, Krejci, Bergeron and Marchand, the Bruins’ roster is still in flux. Sure, signing Vesey would improve the team’s odds in hopes of returning to the playoffs after back to back regular season collapses, but it wouldn’t fill their top lingering need of landing a top-pairing defenseman in the immediate term.
Unlike the Bruins, teams like the Blackhawks and defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins have the likes of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel that they can trot out to persuade Vesey. The Sabres and Maple Leafs have the likes of Jack Eichel (a friend of Vesey’s) and Auston Matthews that can give their respective squads a dynamic 1-2 punch. Not to forget Vesey has family ties in Toronto with has father, Jim, a team scout and his brother, Nolan, a prospect in the Leafs organization.
Other ties: 7/10
Former BU defenseman and Bruins prospect Matt Grzelcyk hopes his good friend Jimmy Vesey signs with the Black and Gold (Photo credit: Steve McLaughlin, BU Athletics)
Like Eichel, there are other prospects in these systems that are hoping to call Vesey a future teammate. In Boston, Vesey has connections with fellow Charlestown native Matt Grzelcyk and Jimmy Hayes as well as former Harvard teammate Ryan Donato. Other close ties to Vesey include the Rangers’ Kevin Hayes, who also opted to go the UFA route after his completing his college career two years ago, and Devils assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald, a native of North Reading.
With all eyes on Vesey’s decision, the Bruins are hoping these pitches are enough to sign the 23-year-old to his first professional hockey contract.
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