Update (4:30pm): Make that eight teams. Obviously the Buffalo Sabres are still very much in the mix, but were omitted from the original report because they were not one of the seven teams who met with Vesey today. The Sabres have had months to negotiate with the Hobey Baker winner, after acquiring his rights from the Nashville Predators, but Vesey’s plan has always been to test free agency and hear the pitches of other interested teams. This does not mean that Buffalo is out of the running as a possible destination, only that Vesey has heard their pitch many times and is now considering what other teams have to say as well. It’s eight teams right now, which is hardly narrowing it down, but the next 24 hours should be telling as #VeseyWatch continues.
ESPN’s Joe McDonald reports that the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes are down to seven finalists. The Blackhawks, Bruins, Devils, Islanders, Maple Leafs, Penguins, and Rangers are all listed as having a shot at the highly sought after winger from Harvard. Five of these teams were previously listed among our own speculative favorites for Vesey, with the Penguins and Islanders making a recent push.
This report would seem to suggest that other teams rumored to have interest, such as the Red Wings, Flyers, Hurricanes, and Blue Jackets, were unable to convince Vesey to join them.
With the exception of the Blackhawks, these are all Eastern Conference teams. Fully half the Metropolitan Division, whose pitches we discussed here, are among the seven finalists. While our above linked preview of Vesey’s free agency discussed what some teams have to offer, the Penguins and Islanders are certainly attractive situations themselves. The Islanders would likely give Vesey an opportunity to play with John Tavares, while beginning his career in New York City. Vesey’s agent, Peter Fish, has spoken positively about the lure of playing in New York. The Penguins on the other hand are the defending Stanley Cup champions, and would give Vesey a very high likelihood of playing regularly with one of Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. It’s never a bad thing to get to start your career on a line with a veteran superstar.
The Vesey camp says that a decision will not come today.