CSN New England’s Bruins beat writer, Joe Haggerty, wrote today that sources have informed him that Boston is no longer considered to be a top contender for college phenom and impending free agent Jimmy Vesey. While the Bruins remain one of the teams that Vesey has previously said he will speak with on August 15th when he can officially explore his free agency options, Haggerty does not believe that the B’s are a likely to sign him.
When Vesey announced that he would not sign with the Nashville Predators, the team that drafted him, and even after his rights were traded to the Buffalo Sabres, the Bruins were considered one of the most likely destinations for the reigning Hobey Baker winner. A hometown kid, Vesey grew up in the Boston suburb of Charlestown, and his father briefly played for the Bruins during his short NHL career. Vesey played his prep school hockey at Belmont Hill in the Boston suburb of Belmont, and then attended Harvard University during the past four years in the Boston suburb of Cambridge. Noticing a trend? Vesey himself has not been shy about his attachment to the city as well, stating that he is a lifelong fan of the Bruins and wears #19 as a tribute to Joe Thornton. However, what many don’t realize is not only the city of Boston familiar to Vesey, but the future of the Bruins is as well. Within the Bruins system currently is forward Ryan Fitzgerald, a childhood friend of Vesey’s from Charlestown who is entering his senior year at Boston College, defenseman Rob O’Gara, Matt Grzelcyk, and Matt Benning, who Vesey squared off against at local New England NCAA schools over the past four years, goalie Zane McIntyre, a fellow Hobey Baker runner-up in 2015, and even Harvard teammates Ryan Donato and Wiley Sherman. Harvard coach and former Bruin Ted Donato has also been rumored to be a top candidate for the Bruins head coaching job during hot seat periods for Claude Julien. Add in that Vesey is friends with Torey Krug and Jimmy Hayes and idolized the Bruins 2011 Stanley Cup team, which included current Bruins Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Adam McQuaid, and Tuukka Rask, and it seems as if the past, present, and future would lead many to assume that Boston has always been Vesey’s preferred destination.
However, if Haggerty’s sources are correct, that is not true and all of those connections to the Bruins are not enough to sway Vesey. He believes that the Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, and New Jersey Devils have all passed up the Bruins, as well as the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres, as the most likely destination for Vesey’s services. Since all of the teams can essentially only pay Vesey the same amount, his decision is all about fit and opportunity. Haggerty believes that the draw of playing alongside Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in Chicago or Taylor Hall and the upstart Devils in New Jersey may be too much for Vesey to instead stay with his comfortable choice of sticking around in Boston.
The Bruins certainly have space for Vesey to play on the left side in Boston, with only 2017 potential free agent Marchand as a bona-fide top six player at left wing. Both Krejci and Ryan Spooner would love to have the Harvard star on their wing. Should Vesey choose to sign elsewhere though, the Bruins will not be out of luck. The team was happy with the production from Matt Beleskey last season, and was very excited by the play of AHL top goal scorer Frank Vatrano. It would also open up opportunities for the AHL’s second-best scorer, Seth Griffith, 2015 first rounder Jake DeBrusk and another NCAA dominant force, Danton Heinen, to make the team.
Regardless, Vesey is certainly a player that any NHL team would like on their roster and there is no doubt that the Bruins will make a strong push to sign him next week. Even Haggerty acknowledged to his Twitter followers that there has been little indication surrounding the eventual landing place of Vesey, and no team can be taken out of the equation before the courting process even starts. The “sources” surrounding the Vesey camp have been pegged by many as unreliable and inconsistent as well, so the Vesey saga will continue until the ink has dried on his contract. Keep an eye on this summer’s biggest story right here at Pro Hockey Rumors when Vesey hits free agency on Monday, August 15th.