Crosby part of Penguins’ pitch, Kane helped Blackhawks court Vesey
When Justin Schultz was the hot draft-pick-turned-free-agent on the market years ago, Wayne Gretzky helped the Edmonton Oilers land that big fish.
Other teams must have been taking notes - about the process maybe more than the prospect - as they’re throwing plenty of star power behind their pitches to Harvard graduate Jimmy Vesey.
Just consider the wide swath of high-level players who sacrificed precious rounds of golf or hours of sunbathing to court the 23-year-old, according to ESPN’s Joe McDonald:
The Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane was in Boston for Chicago’s meeting with Vesey. The Devils’ Cory Schneider and Kyle Palmieri spoke with Vesey, too. The Rangers’ Kevin Hayes, a Boston native, has talked with Vesey numerous times this summer while both work out together. The Islanders’ John Tavares was also in Boston on Tuesday to make his pitch on behalf of the organization. When the Bruins hosted Vesey at the team’s new practice facility, numerous Bruins players were in attendance to greet him. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby also reached out to Vesey.
Also mix in Vesey’s buddy Jack Eichel and the Buffalo Sabres, who has the advantage of knowing him a little better (if nothing else).
Vesey recruiters this week: Matthews, Tavares, PKane, Crosby. (During the summer: Eichel). Star power trying to pull weight for sure.— Mike Harrington (@ByMHarrington) August 18, 2016
Whatever push the Leafs intend on putting on Vesey when the free agent window opens, will likely include Auston Matthews helping sell Tor.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) August 15, 2016
(If there’s one thing we can agree on with Vesey, it’s that he can’t say he never had the chance to feel special ...)
The NHL’s official account even got in on the act of noting the teams who’ve pitched him recently:
All sorts of strong offers
As McDonald reports, Vesey’s agents are doing everything they can to keep the offers rolling in, even denying that any teams are out of the mix.
Even so, some teams are getting kudos for their efforts, whether those remarks are coming on or off the record.
Fish on Pens-Vesey talks: "... not surprised their presentation went as well as it did. We were very impressed with what they had to say."— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) August 18, 2016
So ... yeah, a lot of teams seem to believe that they have a strong chance.
Backlash, plus backlash to the backlash
OK, let’s circle back to a common question. Is Vesey worth the hype?
If you’re obsessing about this, then maybe not. This time of year, his attention is getting inflated, but that doesn’t mean he can’t help a team. The interest is widespread thanks to Vesey being a low-cost, low-risk asset with a decent chance to yield nice results.
ESPN’s Corey Pronman sums up his potential quite well:
Some people bristle at the way this is shaking out:
For the "he's just following the rules" crowd: Ask some 6-7-year NHLers what they think of Vesey's UFA status. They'd say it's a crock— Mike Harrington (@ByMHarrington) August 15, 2016
Others have no issue with Vesey using that leverage.
Jimmy Vesey should do what's best for him/his interests because that's exactly what every team would do if the shoe were on the other foot.— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) August 15, 2016
With all signs pointing to a Vesey decision coming on Friday (or later), others wait with rapt attention or maybe while rolling their eyes.
Come on, some of this is kind of fun. Right?
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