The Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes is finally over, and the Boston Bruins missed out on another one.
Jimmy Vesey and his agents announced on Friday evening that he has signed with the New York Rangers on an entry-level deal. The Rangers are no strangers to this method, signing forward Kevin Hayes as an unrestricted free agent two years ago after he chose not to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks coming out of Boston College.
Coincidentally, current Bruin Jimmy Hayes, the brother of Kevin, is a friend of the Vesey family. Whether the influence from the Hayes family weighed heavily in the decision made by Vesey or not, he will be joining one of the “Original Six” franchises this fall. It just won’t be the one that Boston fans had hoped for.
Vesey, a Harvard graduate and the recipient of the 2016 Hobey Baker Award for most outstanding college hockey player, chose New York after admitting that there were no more than a half-dozen teams or so on his list of destinations.
This team will utilize the size and skill of Vesey to the fullest extent. At 6’2”, 201 lbs., he posted 24 goals and 46 points in 33 games last season for the Crimson, and 144 total points in 128 games during his four-year Harvard career.
The 23-year-old, North Reading native was originally drafted by the Nashville Predators in the third round (No. 66 overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft. Once a player is drafted, he can sign with that team up to three years later if he wishes to remain in school.
That never happened, and Vesey became the most highly sought-after free agent this late into an offseason in recent memory.
Nashville was certainly holding onto hope that Vesey would sign with the team once he completed his senior season in March. It was later revealed that he was going to test free agency, but his rights were then traded to the Buffalo Sabres for a 2016 third-round pick on June 20. The Sabres were talking exclusively to Vesey prior to hitting free agency on August 15, voicing the sales pitch that included playing with close friend Jack Eichel.
Unfortunately, to no avail.
The overall process took a little under a week, which was an appropriate amount of time for a young player to make this decision. The focus is now shifted to preparing for the start of training camp.
An important detail that needs to be mentioned—one that never existed throughout this ordeal—was the potential problem with the money. The teams that were in on Vesey were hindered by the entry-level deal, so the search for a team was never about the hard dollars included in the contract. He will start out on a two-year, incentive-loaded deal worth $925,000 per season for a base salary. In hindsight, this was all about the player himself and figuring out where would be the best option for him in terms of growth as a player.
The Rangers were running out of ways to bring in talented players since they had traded away a plethora of first-round picks over the last several seasons. By signing Vesey, the Rangers infused some additional young talent following the acquisition of center Mike Zibanejad from the Ottawa Senators. He will be a great compliment to Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello, and Derek Stepan. The above-mentioned players will comprise most of the top-six forward positions on that team as presently constructed.
As for the Bruins, they were in a great position to sign the home-grown talent. Vesey would have been immediately inserted as a top-six forward (most likely playing alongside David Krejci and David Pastrnak) and he would have cashed in tremendously on his first big contract due to the cap room available to the Bruins. Throw in the fact that Boston was his hometown team growing up, and Vesey would have been a great fit with the Black and Gold.
Whether it was a coaching issue or questions about the system, Vesey made a choice that was best for his long-term career. The Bruins should still be looking to upgrade their roster prior to the start of the regular season.