If Jimmy Vesey waits until Aug. 15 to hit free agency, he’s going to have a lot of options, but the Sabres are hopping the draw of playing with Jack Eichel and the promise of a real shot at playing big minutes are enough to lock him up before the NCAA’s top free agent hits the open market.
Sabres GM Tim Murray has already made it clear that he’s going to push hard to sign Vesey and isn’t afraid to use rookie sensation Eichel’s relationship with the Harvard standout to get a deal done, but coach Dan Bylsma told NHL.com’s Dan Rosen something equally, if not more, appealing: the promise of top-six minutes.
“First and foremost, he’s got the opportunity to play a top-six role with our team,” Bylsma told Rosen. “He’s got the opportunity to play in a top-six role with a centerman like Jack or Ryan [O’Reilly] possibly, depending on how that would play out…We can surround him with Jack and Sam [Reinhart], but even our veteran players are young players like Ryan O’Reilly, Evander Kane, now Kyle Okposo. He’s got a chance to grow with that group and be a great team. I think that’s the best opportunity for him in the (NHL.)” Read more
The impaired driving charges facing Ryan O’Reilly, 25, have been dropped and now the Buffalo Sabres center can put the entire experience behind him.
The London Free Press’ Jane Sims reported Monday that O’Reilly’s trial, which was slated to last two days, ended shortly after it began. Sims reported the Crown’s lone identification witness said she could not be certain who was behind the wheel of the vehicle that crashed into a Tim Horton’s coffee shop on July 9, 2015, north of London, Ont.
Less than 10 minutes after Sims reported that the witness said a “mystery driver” was behind the wheel of the truck that crashed through the Tim Horton’s window, she added that the Crown had no more evidence and “no reasonable prospect of conviction,” which led to the charges against O’Reilly being dropped.
“The case against Mr. O’Reilly is completely over,” assistant Crown Attorney George Christakos told The Buffalo News’ Gene Warner. Read more
The Vancouver Canucks made a notable splash in this summer’s free-agent pool by signing right winger Loui Eriksson. They could still be in the market for an additional forward.
Jason Botchford of The Province reports the Canucks have been quietly trying to make a deal to land another impact player. He cites GM Jim Benning saying his club would like to acquire a gritty scoring winger.
Botchford claims the Canucks, on the opening day of free agency, were believed trying to package “an unappealing contract with a valuable asset” in hopes of clearing salary-cap room to pursue a forward. He wonders if Buffalo Sabres left winger (and Vancouver native) Evander Kane or Colorado Avalanche left winger Gabriel Landeskog might be among their targets. Botchford also claims a trade involving defenseman Luca Sbisa was thought by some to be discussed.
According to Mark Divver from the Providence Journal, the Buffalo Sabres sent an armada to Boston in the hopes of convincing left winger Jimmy Vesey to sign with the franchise. Vesey, whose rights were acquired from Nashville in the lead-up to the draft, is skating in his hometown and has a frenzy of activity surrounding his free agency decision.
The Boston Bruins search for skilled blueline depth continues in the aftermath of the opening-day NHL free-agent frenzy. CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty reports the Bruins were “kicking the tires” on free-agent shot-blocker Kris Russell.
Haggerty also speculates the Bruins could continue their search in the trade market. He suggests forwards David Krejci or Ryan Spooner could be dangled as trade bait.
With the Bruins signing free-agent center David Backes to a five-year, $30-million contract, Haggerty believes the 30-year-old Krejci has the most value to bring back a quality defenseman. He proposes the St. Louis Blues (Backes’ former club), Anaheim Ducks or Minnesota Wild as possible trade destinations, as they have the type of puck-moving rearguards the Bruins need.
As the dust settles from the opening weekend of the NHL’s annual unrestricted free-agent frenzy, teams that missed out on the best UFA talent could turn to the trade market. For several clubs, that means pursuing a top-pairing defenseman.
After the Edmonton Oilers acquired Adam Larsson last week, GM Peter Chiarelli said he was pleased with his current D-corps. However, that hasn’t stopped speculation he could still be in the market for a skilled puck-moving rearguard.
Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic insists he intends to re-sign restricted free agent blueliner Tyson Barrie. However, the Edmonton Journal’s David Staples suggests until Barrie and Avs coach Patrick Roy declare things are fine between them, the Oilers could still pursue the 24-year-old defenseman. TSN’s Bob McKenzie also shares this view.
Contractual obligations force your trusty correspondent to declare the definitive list of winners and losers from the first day of free agency at a time before the ink is dry on all of the contracts. Who knows who won the day? After all, Thomas Vanek hasn’t even been a healthy scratch as a Detroit Red Wing yet.
With that in mind, we present our Winners and Losers from Canada Day, better known as the Start of Silly Season. If you subscribe to the theory that is held by a number of GMs that more mistakes are made on July 1 than any other day of the year, then perhaps the biggest winners are the teams that did nothing. Maybe it was the Colorado Avalanche, who picked up two players who were not extended qualifying offers and another who was bought out for a total cap hit of $5.3 million.
But that’s no fun. You, dear readers, demand Winners and Losers. Please keep in mind that everyone overpays. So here goes:
The Buffalo Sabres got their man in free agency. Kyle Okposo, the right winger formerly of the New York Islanders, brings top-six talent and a heavy game to the Sabres, who all of a sudden have a pretty nice forwards corps going.