FOXBORO – This summer has been like no other for Harvard hockey standout and North Reading resident Jimmy Vesey. He’s had Buffalo Sabres GMs and coaches fly to Boston in order to pitch him on signing, and he’s got a score of NHL teams just waiting to get a chance to sign him when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 15.
The 23-year-old said it was “comfortable” and a “very good meeting” with the Sabres contingent of GM Tim Murray, coach Dan Bylsma and former Harvard assistant coach/Sabres scout Jerry Forton last week when they flew to Boston to make their pitch to Vesey. But the Hobey Baker Award winner and his camp are insistent on getting to the Aug. 15 date when he’ll become a free agent, and talk to “a short list” of teams.
“I think it would be a little crazy to meet with all 29 teams,” admitted Vesey to CSN in an exclusive interview prior to his weekly Wednesday night appearance in the summer pro league at the Foxboro Sports Center. “We have a little bit of a short list going that I’ve worked on with my agents and my family. We’re going to narrow it down as best as we can, and get through it as quickly as we can on Aug. 15.”
While Vesey didn’t go through the entire list of teams, he did freely admit that the Bruins will be one of them that will get a chance to win him over next month.
“I’ve said it all along that Boston is definitely on my list of teams that I’d like to talk to. 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,” said Vesey, who finished with 24 goals and 46 points in 33 games with the Crimson as a senior last season. “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.”
Vesey also put to rest the lingering rumors that he was leaning away from the Bruins after watching the way Jimmy Hayes was criticized on the sports talk radio airwaves while struggling during his first year in Boston. Perhaps some like Vesey’s own dad feel like the pressure would be too much for the hometown kid playing for the Black and Gold. But it sounded like he was undaunted by the Boston pressure cooker as a hockey product of that environment.
“I work out here in Foxboro with the Hayes brothers, and I’ve known them all my life. I have a good relationship with Jimmy, and he had nothing but good things to say about [the Boston Bruins],” said Vesey to CSN. “To a little bit of an extent I’m a homebody and I definitely have a big crew of family and friends in the Boston area, so it would be comforting to have them around. Like I said, a lot of things are on my mind right now [headed into Aug. 15].”
The sense at this address: the Bruins, Sabres, Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils are the teams on Vesey’s short list with the Pittsburgh Penguins as a possible dark horse candidate after winning the Stanley Cup last spring. There’s little doubt the B’s could use him to step right into a top-6 wing role after losing Loui Eriksson in free agency. Vesey’s presence might also free up Don Sweeney and the Bruins to trade another talented young forward for the puck-moving defenseman they’ve needed for more than a year.
The ball is now in 6-foot-2, 210-pound Vesey’s court after the final meeting with the Sabres brass last week, and everybody should know about a month from now what was truly in the Harvard kid’s plans.