11:57am: Speculation is running rampant now, but Adrian Dater of Bleacher Report is hearing that the Blackhawks and Maple Leafs are the finalists for Vesey, and that Jonathan Toews will be present at the Hawks’ recruitment on Monday. He’s confirmed that Stan Bowman, the Hawks’ GM, has gone to see Vesey skate twice recently. With so many conflicting reports, the “Vesey Sweepstakes” has become the biggest story in the NHL, though he still has to prove his ability at the next level.
10:55am: Mark Divver of The Providence Journal reports that New York Islanders’ GM Garth Snow was in Foxboro yesterday to see Vesey skate. Assuming that most teams at least have some interest in the soon-to-be free agent this doesn’t come as much of a surprise, though it does add some intrigue to the next few days.
9:42am: All offseason, one of the biggest stories has been the upcoming free agency of Harvard forward Jimmy Vesey. After being selected by the Nashville Predators, Vesey would not sign and, after having his rights traded to the Buffalo Sabres a few months ago, will become a free agent on August 15th. Here’s the latest:
Today, Stephen Harris of the Boston Herald tells us that the Vesey camp has narrowed their list down to six teams that still includes Buffalo. Vesey’s agent, Peter Fish, said:
What Jimmy wants to do is see it through. He’s wanted to go to free agency and he’s going to see it through. There’s about 4-5 teams other than Buffalo that he wants to hear from. And then after that he’s going to make a decision. I think he’d love for the Bruins to be one of those teams. I assume that we will be taking a call from them.
This, obviously, stands in the face of Joe Haggarty’s report yesterday that the Bruins had become an unlikely landing spot for Vesey. Haggarty had a source that said the Blackhawks, Devils, Rangers, Leafs and Sabres had all passed Boston on the list of likely suitors leaving the Bruins to try and make up ground in the next few days.
Fish of course, was at the Beantown Summer Classic when he spoke to reporters, making the addition of the Bruins note understandable. In the Herald piece, Harris writes that one “very-well informed area NHL scout” believes that the Blackhawks, Rangers and Bruins will eventually be the finalists. Vesey will ultimately choose whichever team he wants to play for regardless of money, since each club will likely offer him the same ELC. Fish lends credence to this, with another telling quote:
We’ve looked at depth charts with some teams and talked about them. . . . There’s obviously a lot of thought that goes into it: The city, the coach, the GM, the salary structure, how a team treats their players in the second and third contracts down the road.
Whatever happens, Vesey has a huge reputation to now uphold, as he’s been the belle of the ball this summer. If he struggles – and he likely will struggle at times – fan perception could turn quickly on the 23-year old. We’ll keep an eye on the situation for the next few days, and look to bring you the news of his decision as soon as it happens – whether it be Monday or down the line.