UPDATE 3:52 PM CST: Bob McKenzie throws a little water on the fire of Vesey signing, with a couple of quotes from Sabres GM Tim Murray: “Why not us? Why not give it a shot? We have a spot in our Top 6 for him. We had four 3rd-round picks.” and “If I could’ve traded (rental) Jamie McGinn for Vesey’s rights at deadline, I’d have done it. We’ll give it our best shot.” While it still seems likely that Buffalo will sign him, perhaps it’s not quite as certain.
3:48 PM CST: In addition to being close with Eichel, Michael Russo of the Star Tribune adds that he’s been skating with him for a month already.
3:33 PM CST: According to Nashville Predators’ Twitter, the team has dealt the rights to NCAA winger Jimmy Vesey to Buffalo for a third round pick in this year’s draft. Tom Gulitti of NHL.com adds that it is Minnesota’s pick that is being dealt, 76th overall.
After much speculation that the Harvard winger would wait until August 15th, when he would be come an unrestricted free agent it seems Buffalo is certain they can get him signed before then. Vesey is close with Jack Eichel, the Sabres’ top pick from a year ago.
If the Sabres can get him signed, it’s a big addition to a club already brimming with young talent. Vesey 46 points this past year for Harvard, coming third in overall scoring in the ECAC. Now 23-years old, Vesey will be expected to step right into the Buffalo lineup and contribute. His size and skill will lead him to a top-six role quickly in the NHL, though there may be some doubt in his ability to become an elite winger.
For the Predators, it’s a fairly decent return for a player who was clearly not going to sign with them. Vesey was determined to become a free agent in August, meaning that the Predators would have lost him for nothing. Instead, they replace the 66th overall pick they spent on him with a 76th a few years later. While obviously not as good as getting Vesey for themselves, they’ll take what they can get at this point.