Recent reports say the Philadelphia Flyers will be making a push to sign young free agent Jimmy Vesey this summer, like about half the league
For those that aren’t familiar with the name Jimmy Vesey, allow me to introduce him.
Vesey is a 6’3″ power forward. He was initially drafted by the Nashville Predators in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft. Since being drafted, he has played 4 years of college hockey at Harvard University, and blossomed into a force in college hockey. He’s scored 104 points over the last 2 seasons in only 70 games, and was awarded the Hobey Baker as the best player in college hockey last season.
Under NHL rules, by playing 4 years of college hockey and declining to sign with the team that drafted him, Vesey is eligible to become a free agent on August 15 this summer. Nashville was not happy about this decision, but when they saw it was hopeless to sign the player, they traded his rights to the Buffalo Sabres. Holding his rights, Buffalo is the only team capable of signing him before August 15.
This is the same tactic used by Kevin Hayes to move from the Blackhawks to the Rangers, and Justin Schultz to slip away from Anaheim to the Edmonton.
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What makes Vesey so desirable now is that Vesey’s contract will be constrained by NHL entry-level contract rules. Specifically, his contract value is designated at $925,000 per season plus bonuses. Given that many believe Vesey is ready to step in immediately into a team’s top-6 forwards, this is a fantastic bargain.
Without dollars to discuss, Vesey’s decision will hinge on team fit. He is said to prefer playing in the northeast, as Vesey is from Boston. As you would expect, he is also looking for immediate lineup opportunities. Given these parameters, there are likely only a few teams in the earnest running for Vesey.
The 3 favorites for Vesey are the Buffalo Sabres, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Boston Bruins. The Sabres pressed their exclusive advantage and made a pitch to Vesey a few days ago. The meeting reportedly went very well, but Vesey is still committed to becoming a free agent in one month‘s time.
The Philadelphia Flyers fall into the 2nd tier of contenders for Vesey. The Flyers pitch is pretty straightforward: they’re a northeastern team, and their most pressing need is a top-6 winger. In Philadelphia, Vesey would be able to play with premium forwards like Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, but would have ample opportunity to be a top-6 and power play regular. He is also a solid 2-way forward, and might be attracted to playing for a recent college coach like Dave Hakstol.
For what it’s worth, longtime Flyers and hockey reporter Al Morganti thinks the Flyers have a decent shot at Vesey.
Signing Vesey would singlehandedly make it a successful offseason for the Philadelphia Flyers. While just yesterday I was writing about trading for a power forward, it’s even better to sign one for cheap that doesn’t have any the baggage of Evander Kane.
There’s nothing the Flyers or any other NHL team can do regarding Vesey for another 5 weeks, but for now, remember the name.