Sabres trade for Vesey's rights; Bruins may still have a chance

Sabres trade for Vesey's rights; Bruins may still have a chance

It’s been no secret for months that the Buffalo Sabres might make a good NHL home for soon-to-be free agent winger Jimmy Vesey, and now the Sabres have made a big move to land the coveted college hockey star. The Sabres dealt one of their four third round picks in the 2016 NHL Draft to the Nashville Predators for exclusive negotiating rights with the former Harvard captain, and will have until Aug. 15 to get a deal done with the big, skilled winger.

It was a win for the Nashville Predators that recouped their third round pick investment in Vesey that appeared to be wasted when the youngster decided he wasn’t going to sign with them, and now it gives Buffalo nearly two months to woo the Hobey Baker winner. If Vesey were to sign in Buffalo, GM Tim Murray said on Monday he’d immediately be installed into a top-6 role, and that gives one an idea of how impactful the 23-year-old could be to an NHL team right off the bat.

Sources had told as long as two months ago that the Sabres would be prominent in the Vesey sweepstakes and that the forward’s lifelong friendship with Jack Eichel could potentially sway him toward signing with Buffalo.

Vesey’s agents were quick to say Monday that their client still planned on taking things to free agency in mid-August, and that is consistent with their close-to-the-vest approach since things got a bit unpleasant during their Nashville breakup.

"Jimmy's intent at this time has not changed and is prepared to become a free agent on August 15,” said his agent, Peter Donatelli, to inquiring reporters.

But it also seems a little suspect that Buffalo would waste a third round pick if they don’t think they have the inside track on Vesey, and both Vesey and Eichel are already skating together in a summer league in Foxboro that kicked off last week.

So where does this leave the Bruins?

Well, it’s a positive that Vesey still plans on playing out the process all the way to official free agency. So there’s still a chance for the Black and Gold to swoop in if Vesey’s camp starts to get cold feet just as they did midway through the process with the Predators.

But it’s clearly a black mark on the Black and Gold that they didn’t have the assets to secure Vesey’s rights after trading away their own 2016 third round pick for John-Michael Liles during a series of futile trade deadline decisions. Wasting draft pick assets on Liles and Lee Stempniak while failing to trade away Loui Eriksson for more draft pick assets has left the Bruins without as much ammunition as some of the other clubs, and that doesn’t even count the ridiculous 2017 third round draft pick price spent on Zac Rinaldo last summer as well.

Now the Bruins may be forced to up their ante in negotiations with Eriksson prior to July 1 if they feel Vesey slipping away from them, and continue a bad trend for any NHL organization: wasting draft pick assets, and spending big money on aging players with premium price tags.

Donato misses Bruins practice for Harvard class commitment

Donato misses Bruins practice for Harvard class commitment

It might have caused a ripple when Ryan Donato wasn’t on the ice on Tuesday afternoon in St. Louis for Bruins practice on the day after his brilliant, three-point NHL debut for the Black and Gold. But the 21-year-old Donato was still back in the Boston area fulfilling some class requirements at Harvard University to help him close out the current semester properly, and not lose the credits that will keep him in line with fulfilling his junior year at Harvard University.

Believe it or not, the schoolwork is important to the newest member of the Boston Bruins and he intends to study and hit the books on his road trips, and also intends to take classes in the summertime to still graduate on time next season.

“I’m planning on finishing the semester academically. I want to finish the semester academically,” said Donato, after Monday’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena prior to last night’s debut vs. Columbus. “Obviously it’s going to be something that’s difficult, but for me it was a dream to graduate from Harvard. I’m putting that off a little bit, but I need to be able to finish this semester in order to have that opportunity, and not put it off for another couple of years. I want to finish out the semester.”

Donato is also still living in the Harvard dorms while “moonlighting” as an NHL hockey player for the rest of the season, but that isn’t all so uncommon among some of the college players that leave school early. Charlie McAvoy was similarly living in the Boston University dorms last spring through Boston’s playoff run, and didn’t clear out of his college living situation until after the Black and Gold had been eliminated by the Ottawa Senators last April.

Missing practices on an NHL schedule is certainly a new one with, Donato, however, and takes the student-athlete concept to a whole new level for somebody that's already turned pro. One has to expect this was one of the things being discussed in full when the Donato family, Ryan's agent and the Bruins discussed his contract terms over the weekend before coming to an agreement.

Along with Donato, who is scheduled to fly into St. Louis and play against the Blues on Wednesday night, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, David Backes, Jake DeBrusk, Rick Nash and Torey Krug were all missing from the ice at Tuesday’s team practice ahead of a four game road trip against Western Conference opponents.


Morning Skate: Claude's Habs 'not a very good team'

File photo

Morning Skate: Claude's Habs 'not a very good team'

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while not really digging these forecasts of more snow.

*You know, if he weren’t making millions and millions of dollars I might actually feel bad for ol' Claude Julien up in Montreal busting out the “We’re not a very good team” soliloquy with the Habs. That team flat out stinks this season and these past few weeks it can’t be fun at all being the head coach of that dumpster fire.

*Darren Dreger says there is no rush for the Toronto Maple Leafs to bring back Auston Matthews before he’s ready to go, and that’s absolutely the case so close to the playoffs.

*Here are five Hart Trophy-caliber players that won’t get a sniff of the voting, but deserve some attention nonetheless. There are no Bruins players on the list if you’re wondering, but some pretty good ones in Johnny Gaudreau and Aleksander Barkov.

*The NHL general managers are weighing potential changes to the goalie-interference interpretation ahead of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

*While it still looks a Swedish defenseman is going to be the No. 1 overall pick this June, there are some other players rocketing up the list.

*For something completely different: The definitive ranking of Girl Scout cookies from best-to-worst that we’ve all been waiting for.

*Song of the Week: Haven’t done one of these in a long, long time, but I like this Calvin Harris/Katy Perry/Pharrell Williams tune that I hadn’t heard until the past couple of days.