ESPN New Hampshire’s “The Stretch Run” with Pete Sheppard and Jimmy Murphy took #VeseyWatch to the airwaves today, debating the possible landing spots for Harvard star and one-man free agent frenzy Jimmy Vesey. Murphy revealed his prediction to be the New Jersey Devils, based on some inside information, as well as the plethora of USA Hockey connections in the organization and the ample cap space that the Devils have. New Jersey is in a unique situation compared to many of the major players in the Vesey sweepstakes, in that they are well below the NHL salary cap, so the roster that Vesey sees now is unlikely to change due to his signing there, and down the road the Devils could have the space to award Vesey with an expensive, long-term extension.
As a New England station, the pair then predictably analyzed the prospect of Vesey on the Boston Bruins. However, neither felt strongly about the Bruins’ chances. They felt that Claude Julien’s approach of being hard on young players and making them earn their play time, a system that sent Alexander Khokhlachev packing to Russia, may scare away a college free agent like Vesey. They also described the Bruins as a poor fit for Vesey compared to rest of the field, as they could not guarantee him success and playoff experience due to their poor defensive depth, nor could they guarantee him a top six role, with Brad Marchand, Matt Beleskey, and Frank Vatrano in the fold and Julien’s penchant for being tough on young players.
However, when Harvard University head coach Ted Donato, a former Bruin himself, joined the show, the mood towards the Bruins changed somewhat. He acknowledged that Vesey “is and always will be” a Bruins fan, and said that he knows from experience that Boston has a great fan base and strong tradition, and that it is an honor for local kids to play for the team. Donato sounded skeptical about the current Boston team when asked about the state of the Bruins, but seemed optimistic about the moves they have made with an eye toward the future. Whether or not that is an obligatory remark from the father of Bruins prospect Ryan Donato, it seems like Donato considers the Bruins to be very much in the mix for Vesey’s talents.
Donato did stop short of endorsing the Bruins as the destination for Vesey though, and said that he has tried to stay away from that situation. He describes Vesey as being “smart”, “well-spoken” and “humble”, and that he, his family, and his agents are taking a “down-to-earth” and reasonable approach to finding the right spot for the Hobey Baker winner. Donato listed the Rangers and Blackhawks (who Sheppard and Murphy call the “Patriots” of the NHL) as great franchises who are in the mix, and said that every team will have something to offer Vesey and that it will be a difficult choice.
While Donato did not reveal any real insider information about Vesey’s decision, it was a good segment from a guy who knows Vesey very well and has NHL experience and a great hockey mind himself. Listen for yourself and learn more about the young man who already has the entire hockey world captivated.