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Veni Vidi Vesey: With Whom Will Jimmy Vesey Land?

Jimmy Vesey (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Jimmy Vesey (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)


Jimmy Vesey is a smart kid. One would know this simply by discovering that he went to Harvard University. But beyond his educational background, he successfully circumvented the NHL Draft procedure.

Drafted in the third round in 2012 (#66 overall) by the Nashville Predators, Vesey decided not to sign an entry-level deal with the Preds. He decided instead to attend Harvard and play hockey in the ECAC. Most players who go on to play Junior or NCAA hockey after being drafted do the same – they forego signing their Entry-Level Contract to give themselves a chance to develop at a lower level first. But when the time came for Vesey to ink his first professional contract, he declined.

On June 20, Nashville then flipped its rights to Vesey to Buffalo for a third-round pick (#76 overall), originally belonging to Minnesota and eventually making its way to the Music City like a rock band on a North American tour. But like the Preds, the Sabres did not get Vesey to ink his ELC with them either. As per the CBA in place between the NHL and the Players’ Association, Vesey became a free agent on Tuesday.

A number of teams are rumored to be in the running for the Vesey sweepstakes: Boston, Toronto, Chicago, both New York City organizations, New Jersey, and Pittsburgh. However, Vesey’s first deal in his NHL career will be limited to an ELC with a maximum cap hit of $925,000. That means he won’t be able to do his best Jerry Maguire impression – at least not monetarily. Money will not entice him to play anywhere at this time.

Jimmy Vesey now has the opportunity to choose whichever team he wants to play. He holds all the cards. Well-played, Jimmy! See, I told you he was smart…

Side note: this is a similar situation to what Kevin Hayes went through a couple summers ago whereby he was drafted by the Blackhawks, began a free agent, and subsequently signed with the Rangers. Must be something in the Massachusetts water…

Before stepping on NHL ice, Vesey has a long list of accomplishments already. In 2011-12, he was the EJHL’s Most Valuable Player where he hit 91 points in just 45 games. During the 2012-13 season, he won gold at the U-20 World Juniors playing for team USA alongside Johhny Gudreau, JT Miller, Shayne Gostisbehere (you already know how I feel about Ghost), Seth Jones, Jacob Trouba, and several other top Americans in the age group. In the 2014-15 season playing for Harvard, Vesey put up 58 points in just 37 games, earning him a Hobey Baker nomination, an ECAC title, and ECAC and Ivy-League Player of the Year. Last season, Vesey was awarded the Hobey Baker while donning the “C” below his shoulder. Needless to say, if all of this is foreshadowing, he’s in for one helluva hockey career ahead of him.

So it begs the question: where will Jimmy Vesey begin his NHL career?

We’ll start first with Boston. He’s from Massachusetts, so playing for his hometown team would fulfill every kid’s dream. The Big Bad Bruins would rely heavily on Vesey’s 6’1” frame to help bring Boston back into the playoff picture. That’s exactly what Vesey wants – he wants to be utilized early and often.

But Boston isn’t the only organization looking to potentially rely on Vesey.

Toronto has gone 18,000+ days without hoisting the Stanley Cup, a record drought in the NHL. Vesey would slip right into top-six minutes to help a young squad give the city of Toronto hope again. The Leafs are no strangers to Vesey’s scouting reports as his own father, Jim, is a scout for the organization. Toronto also owns the rights to Jimmy’s younger brother Nolan. Move over, Staal brothers; could there be a pair of Vesey brothers on the horizon?

As if Garth Snow needed anymore youth talent, the Islanders would surely benefit from signing Vesey and giving him top-six minutes as well. There is much pressure on the Islanders to prove they are not a one-and-done playoff contender. Vesey would no doubt bolster the roster to ensure future playoff success, and perhaps a deep run at the Cup.

Across the Brooklyn Bridge, the Rangers could definitely use Vesey. He’s a pure goal scorer. He scores from anywhere – high slot; low slot atop the crease; from the circles, and anywhere in between. He has a wicked wrist shot, a great set of mitts, and explosive speed. Aside from the Rangers’ GM Jeff Gorton, many NYC celebs have taken it upon themselves to try to recruit the 23-year old.

Boomer Esiason, Mets’ Noah Syndergaard, Jets’ Muhammad Wilkerson, former Giants’ DE Justin Tuck, and Jerry Ferrara of “Entourage” have encouraged him in 140 characters or less to make the Big Apple his first NHL home (although, Kevin Connolly didn’t appreciate “Turtle” pitching to Vesey on behalf of his team’s bitter rival). Kevin Hayes, another Massachusetts native, works out with Vesey in the offseason. He has probably been selling the bright lights and big city life to Jimmy all summer long. Can you imagine Mats Zuccarello setting this kid up for 30+ goal seasons? I sure can…

Take a trip through the Lincoln Tunnel down to Newark, and you’ll find a team that could easily fit Vesey into the lineup. The Devils upgraded on offense with the acquisition of Taylor Hall this summer, but if there was a quota for production in New Jersey, Vesey would no doubt help the team score its goals.

Chicago and Pittsburgh are interesting candidates also. Both have won the Cup in the last two seasons. Both are perennial playoff contenders. And both would like to stay that way, for a cheap price given their arduous salary cap situations. After trading Andrew Shaw to the Habs, Vesey could line up with “Captain Serious” Jonathan Toews and truly learn what it takes to be a leader and a great player at the same time. In Pittsburgh, Vesey could land a spot next to Sid or Geno as Chris Kunitz is entering the final year of his contract. This would be another prime opportunity for Vesey to learn and grow as a player, playing alongside the best in the world, and helping his team maintain its status as true Stanley Cup contenders.

And then there’s Buffalo, the last team to own the rights to Vesey. Vesey and Jack Eichel have been playing together this summer at the Foxboro Summer League. Could there be chemistry brewing? Probably. Could Vesey help put the Sabres back on the map? Without a doubt. Will he get the top line minutes he demands? Absolutely. But am I convinced he will sign there? I am not fully sold, and neither should Vesey be. The Sabres are missing some key depth up front, on the blue line, and the crease could be bolstered as well.

All the aforementioned teams have either sent players to Boston to meet with Vesey, or players from these teams have reached out to him to make their sales pitch on behalf of their respective clubs.
Jimmy Vesey is coming to the NHL; he will see what it’s like to compete at the highest level; and he will no doubt conquer the NHL with whatever club he decides to sign with.

By Sunday evening, Vesey will likely have made his decision.

My prediction: Vesey will join his friend Kevin Hayes on the New York Rangers, and play alongside Mika Zibanejad and Mats Zuccarello for top-line minutes and become a power play staple. We’ll find out soon enough!

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Evan is the Hockey Editor for He provides coverage of the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and Philadelphia Flyers, as well as some league-wide content.

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