The Buffalo Sabres have acquired the rights to pending free agent Jimmy Vesey from the Nashville Predators in exchange for a 2016 3rd round draft pick (76th overall), the team announced Monday.
Vesey, the 2016 Hobey Baker winner, played four years at Harvard and decided not to sign with the Predators, as is his right. That means he can become a free agent on August 15.
“If I could’ve traded Jamie McGinn for Vesey’s rights at deadline,” said Buffalo general manager Tim Murray, “I’d have done it. We’ll give it our best shot.” He made that comparison because the 3rd round draft pick they’re sending off was acquired in a deadline trade with Anaheim for McGinn. That 3rd round pick was originally the pick of the Minnesota Wild and has been held by six teams. It’s been used in trades for Sean Bergenheim, Jaromir Jagr, Kyle Palmieri, McGinn and, now, Vesey.
The Sabres are taking a calculated risk grabbing Vesey’s rights. Vesey has said there’s some level of interest on his part in going to Boston, his hometown and the city where he played four years of college hockey. There has also been speculation that the Toronto Maple Leafs may be in the running, as his father is a pro scout there and the team drafted his brother as well.
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They’ll have some time to woo him, and will have an advantage with his agent being quite familiar with the franchise. He also represents Jack Eichel.
“It’s been pretty clear since late March that we’re not going to be able to sign Jimmy Vesey,” Predators general manager David Poile told The Tennessean. “We were fully aware of what the rules are, that he’d become an unrestricted free agent in mid-August, and at that time, we’d receive no compensation of any kind for our investment and our asset. By trading him today, in my opinion, we recouped the [third-round] pick we used to acquire him.”
Vesey scored 24 goals and 46 points in 33 games as the captain of Harvard in his senior year.