What To Know About The Jimmy Vesey Sweepstakes
Brian Blanco, AP

All you need to know about Jimmy Vesey, the league’s most popular unrestricted free agent.

This offseason, general managers around the league likely had two days circled on their calendars.

Besides for the initial day of free agency, which is always the most important twenty-four hour period of the offseason, league executives likely had their eyes on something else: the date Harvard star forward Jimmy Vesey would become an unrestricted free agent.

It’s rare that such a highly-touted prospect is available this late in the humdrum offseason, but Vesey is no ordinary prospect.

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Who is Vesey?

Vesey, 23, was drafted by the Nashville Predators in the third round of the 2013 NHL Draft. He was awarded the prestigious Hobey Baker Award, given to the best player in college hockey in 2015-16.

He tallied 56 goals and 104 points in 70 games for the Harvard Crimson Tide during his junior and senior seasons. Listed as 6-foot-3, and 203 pounds, many believe that he can make an immediate impact in the NHL as a top-six forward.

Vesey plays a well-rounded game, has plenty of goal-scoring ability, the size and bulk to play in traffic, and the prowess to be a contributor on the power play. He has been lauded in the past for his natural hockey instincts and vast knowledge of the game.

Why is Vesey a free agent?

The Buffalo Sabres struck a deal with the Nashville Predators two months ago to acquire the rights of Vesey, who made it clear that he had no intention of signing with the Preds.

Despite the Sabres aggressively attempting to sign him, his agents have made it clear that Vesey will — at minimum — explore free agency.

Vesey became an unrestricted free agent at midnight Tuesday.

Which teams are interested in signing him?

Vesey has decided on a short list of teams he will meet with prior to signing a deal before the week ends.

The Devils, Rangers, and Maple Leafs are all strong contenders to sign him, while the Sabres, Penguins, Blackhawks, Islanders, and Bruins are also on that list.

Vesey has previously expressed his desire to stay in the Northeast, so it’s no surprise that all the teams on his list are in the region.

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There is some uncertainty regarding Vesey’s motive. Does he want to play alongside a superstar like John Tavares, Sidney Crosby, or Jonathan Toews? Does he want to compete for his hometown team, the Bruins? Does he want a guaranteed role in the top-six, something a team like the Leafs, Rangers or Devs can grant him?

It’s important to note that money shouldn’t play a factor as Vesey can demand — at most — a two-year deal with a maximum base salary of $925K, plus up to $2.85 million in potential performance bonuses, according to NJ.com.

He’s expected to make a decision by week’s end, so the only thing left do is wait — and speculate.

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Justin Weiss is a staff editor at Elite Sports New York, where he covers the New York Islanders and Brooklyn Cyclones. In 2016, he received a Quill Award for Freelance Journalism. He has written for the Long Island Herald, FanSided and YardBarker.