Sources: Bruins not a favorite to land free agent Jimmy Vesey

Sources: Bruins not a favorite to land free agent Jimmy Vesey

Nobody knows for sure where Jimmy Vesey is going to play next season, a decision that won't be made -- or at least announced -- until the NHL calendar moves past Aug. 15 and the former Harvard captain hits free agency. But it doesn’t appear to be looking good for the Boston Bruins.

According to two different sources with knowledge of the situation, the B’s aren't currently one of the top three teams Vesey and his camp are leaning toward, despite being one of the organizations he’ll speak with.

Vesey, 23, confirmed in an interview with CSN last month that the Bruins are on his short list and spoke rather convincingly at that time about some of the reasons he might lean toward the Black and Gold.

“I’ve said it all along that Boston is definitely on my list of teams that I’d like to talk to,” said Vesey, who finished with 24 goals and 46 points in 33 games with the Crimson as a senior last season, during that interview with CSN. “It’s a team that I’ve rooted for all my life, and it’s a team that I watched win the Stanley Cup in 2011. I’ll definitely be meeting with Boston in August.

“I was a huge Joe Thornton fan growing up. He wore No. 19. I wear No. 19. He was my favorite player. I got to know Torey Krug a little bit through playing with him at the world championships last year.  So it would be really cool to play with Torey and put on the Bruins jersey. It’s the team that I’ve watched for my whole life.”

According to one of those sources, however, Vesey’s top three preferred spots are currently the Chicago Blackhawks, the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils. 

The Blackhawks have made a big push for the 6-foot-2, 215-pounder in recent weeks, with both GM Stan Bowman and head coach Joel Quenneville traveling to Foxboro to watch the youngster play in the Summer Pro League at the Foxboro Sports Center. It would appear playing with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane while immediately competing for a Stanley Cup are the big selling points.

The Rangers have a couple of local guys on their roster -- Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes -- whom Vesey is familiar with, and there’s a good working relationship between Vesey’s agents and Rangers GM Jeff Gorton. Similarly, the Vesey family has strong ties with Devils assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald, going back to their Charlestown days, and New Jersey is looked at as a team on the rise in the Eastern Conference with Cory Schneider and Taylor Hall.

Perhaps most surprising of all, though, is that the Bruins, Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs have fallen back in the Vesey pack. All three appeared to be frontrunners for most of the process, given their strong ties to last season’s Hobey Baker winner.

Nothing is really set in stone until Vesey, and his representatives, speak with all the interested teams during the interview process, and all this could change before or shortly after the Vesey-go-free date of Aug. 15. This saga has taken many turns since he first told the Nashville Predators -- the team that drafted him -- that he wouldn't be signing with them.

Still, the Vesey situation is one of the few things keeping the NHL offseason fire burning during a time when most of the hockey world is vacationing prior to the open of training camps. 

Banged up B's 'look forward to the challenge' vs Tampa team they're chasing

USA TODAY Sports Photo

Banged up B's 'look forward to the challenge' vs Tampa team they're chasing

TAMPA BAY – It certainly might not be the shape they envisioned themselves being in when these late season games arrived against the President’s Trophy favorites in Tampa Bay, but the Bruins are bracing for a showdown with the high-powered Lightning either way. 

The Bruins stand just four points behind the Bolts with one game in hand, and mathematically they absolutely have a shot of catching and surpassing the Lightning for the NHL’s top spot with three games remaining against them in the season’s final month. But realistically it’s got to be considered a long shot at this point with Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Charlie McAvoy and Jake DeBrusk all out for Saturday night’s meeting with Tampa, and Bergeron and McAvoy expected to potentially miss all three of their divisional scraps. 

Coming off a 3-0 shutout loss at the hands of the Florida Panthers and at the end of a week-long, four-game road trip, the Bruins know they’re going to need to tighten things up against a Lightning team they can’t match firepower with in their weakened state. 

“I think we’ve done a pretty good job of just playing the game in front of us, and not getting too far ahead, too high or too low. We’ve got the best team in the National Hockey League, arguably, at home and rested [in front of us],” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “We look forward to the challenge. They’re a high-scoring team, so we talked about that with our goaltenders and our ‘D’ today. We better be ‘on’ because they’ll be coming. Our forwards are going to have to help out in that area and make sure we’re reloading well, and keep getting pucks at the net. 

“We didn’t finish [against Florida] but it wasn’t because of lack of effort or lack of pucks at the net. That part of our game is trending pretty well offensively. I think you’re going to have score to a certain extent against this team because you’re not going to shut them down completely. That’s our game plan for whoever is going to be in the lineup. They’ve got to be ready for it because that’s how it works, and that’s how it’s worked all year long for us. We need the guys in there to do their part and do it well.”

Certainly the Bruins could still do some offensive damage with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak still intact on their top line, and David Krejci and Rick Nash also still developing their chemistry on the second line. Torey Krug also came through feeling healthy at practice on Friday after soaking up 26 plus minutes of ice time in the loss to Florida, so they’ll also have some puck-moving and offensive pop on the back end as well.

But it may come down to the Chara-less defense and Tuukka Rask to step up and go into shutdown mode against the Lightning if they’re looking to really push up on the Lightning, and make this a horse race for the Atlantic Division down the stretch. Not to mention, it would be a psychological swing for both teams if the Bruins could take down a rested, relatively healthy Tampa Bay hockey club with their undermanned, injury-ravaged bunch. 

That in and of itself should be plenty of motivation for a Bruins team that’s got their sights and set on bigger and better things this spring with the Lightning expected to be one of the big obstacles standing in their way.


Morning Skate: Tavares or Seguin?

NBC Sports Boston Photo

Morning Skate: Tavares or Seguin?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while jacked and pumped about that Infinity War trailer. Wow. 


*Credit here for something outside the box and clear hockey satire while looking far into the NHL’s crystal ball where the new expansion team is called the Seattle Slippery Seals, and Brad Marchand is the head of the NHLPA. That is quite a twist at the end of the movie right there. 


*The Hockey Central crew debates whether they would want John Tavares or Tyler Seguin as a player to build their team around. Seguin is having a solid year (with the end of his contract coming into view), but I’m going with Tavares all day long. I think he’s more of a competitor and a reliable player along with an equitable level of talent, and that counts for quite a bit in team-building. 


*It’s good to see the PHWA decide to make public the ballots of all NHL Awards starting at the end of this season. It’s something I voted in favor of and already did annually as I think transparency is something we always ask for from those we cover, so it should never be something we shy away from. 


*The Flyers have hit the skids again after pushing themselves into playoff view. This has been such a streak team over the last couple of years. 


*Pro Hockey Talk says that the Montreal Canadiens need to take a long look into the mirror before they move on from this season. I couldn’t agree more. 


*For something completely different: I feel badly for my kids that Toys R us is liquidating as a company, and the stores will be closing. It’s getting to the point where there will be no more brick and mortar toy stores for kids to visit, and that’s something from my youth experience that they’re going to miss out on. Frankly, it’s kind of sad.