Sabres acquire Jimmy Vesey, but will he sign?

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The Buffalo Sabres acquired the negotiating rights to forward Jimmy Vesey from the Nashville Predators Monday afternoon in a trade that can only be described as exciting.

The Sabres traded one of their four third round picks in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft in exchange for the young winger, but Vesey isn’t officially a Sabre just yet. The Harvard University graduate will be an unrestricted free agent on August 15th, giving Buffalo less than two months to negotiate his entry level contract.

Vesey was selected with the 66th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft by the Nashville Predators, months before even lacing up a pair of skates as a member of the Harvard Crimson. Vesey would shine at Harvard, scoring 80 goals and 144 points in just 128 games while playing in Cambridge. He was a Hobey Baker Award finalist twice in his career, being the runner up to future Sabre Jack Eichel in 2015 before winning the award in 2016 as the best player in college hockey.

Nashville Predators’ general manager David Poile viewed Vesey as one of the team’s top prospects, and was angry to hear that Vesey was not willing to sign with the Preds back in March of this year. Rather than allowing Vesey to walk into free agency and get nothing in return, Poile figured it was better to get something for the talented prospect than nothing, allowing Tim Murray to swoop in and make a trade for the 23 year old winger with immense potential.

Obviously, the question of whether or not Vesey will sign for the Sabres is on the minds of people all around Buffalo tonight. While only Vesey knows the answer to that question right now, Sabres fans should feel confident that Vesey will sign with the team due mainly to the fact that the Sabres have Jack Eichel. Like Eichel, Vesey is a Boston, Massachusetts native, and having a player from the same city who is around the same age may help Vesey adjust to life in Buffalo. Eichel is also considered one of most talented prospects in hockey, so developing next to Eichel is most likely very appealing to Vesey. On a side note, Vesey’s agent, Peter Fish, is no stranger to negotiating with Tim Murray, as Fish also represents Jack Eichel.

While we don’t know for sure whether or not Vesey will sign for the blue and gold, we know that Murray and Terry Pegula are going to put together a heck of a pitch. Murray said that the team “has a spot in the top six” for the 6’3 winger, most likely playing alongside Eichel or Ryan O’Reilly, who made the NHL All Star Game last year.

Even if Vesey doesn’t sign for Buffalo, the Sabres really don’t lose anything in this trade.

“Why not us? We had four 3rd-round picks. Why not give it a shot?” said Tim Murray.

The worst case scenario coming out of this trade is Vesey not signing with the Sabres and entering free agency. The best case scenario? Buffalo adds yet another player that will be a cornerstone for the franchise for the next decade.

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