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.