Jimmy Vesey still planning to test free agency after ‘very good meeting’ with Sabres

Jared Clinton
Jimmy Vesey (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

The Buffalo Sabres took a gamble in mid-June when they dealt a third-round pick in the 2016 draft to the Nashville Predators for the rights to NCAA standout Jimmy Vesey. The hope was the Sabres would lock up Vesey before Aug. 15, the day the Hobey Baker Award winner is set to become an unrestricted free agent.

While the gamble may still pay off, Buffalo GM Tim Murray isn’t going to know whether or not he landed Vesey until the 23-year-old is able to test the open market. Vesey told CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty that he had a “very good meeting” with the Sabres, but the 6-foot-2, 201-pound winger wants to at least hear from a few other teams about what they could offer him.

“We have a little bit of a short list going that I’ve worked on with my agents and my family,” Vesey told Haggerty. “We’re going to narrow it down as best as we can, and get through it as quickly as we can on Aug. 15.” Read more

Sabres coach Bylsma says Vesey would jump into Buffalo’s top-six

Jared Clinton
Jimmy Vesey (Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

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

Buffalo Sabres push hard for NCAA star Jimmy Vesey

Jimmy Vesey (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

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.

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When is a free agent not really free? When his name is Johnny Gaudreau

Ken Campbell
Johnny Gaudreau (right) (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

As of today, NHL teams are permitted to get in touch with restricted free agents in advance of the free agency period opening July 1. Which is kind of like when Communist governments would hold elections. The fix is pretty much in. Chances are overwhelming that nobody is going to get an offer sheet, despite the fact you could make an all-star team out of the players who are available.

“Over the years you can probably count the number of visits teams have had with restricted free agents on one hand,” one agent said. “And I don’t think there will be too many this year.”

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The real battle for Clayton Keller is about to begin

Ryan Kennedy
Clayton Keller (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

BUFFALO – Last night was huge for center Clayton Keller. The dazzling NTDP product went seventh overall to Arizona, giving the Coyotes a player with a Patrick Kane-like skill set. It was also a victory for smaller players, as Keller is one of the few top-10 picks in recent years to come in at 5-foot-10 or less.

But Keller can’t rest too much on his accomplishments in Buffalo; he’s got a big decision on his hands. Will he play for Boston University next season, or the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires? Is the AHL a possibility? There’s a lot of intrigue involved.

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Winners and losers from the first round of the draft

Ryan Kennedy
Winnipeg's Patrik Laine (Photo by Jen Fuller/Getty Images)

BUFFALO – So, who saw the draft going down the way it did? Be honest.

Yes, the top two picks were chalk. Toronto got their dominant center of the future in Auston Matthews, while Winnipeg added a savage scoring weapon in Patrik Laine. But who else won the night? And on the downer side, who lost in Buffalo? Here’s a breakdown.

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Tyson Jost: Family, sacrifice and what it takes to get to the draft

Ryan Kennedy
Tyson Jost. (Garrett James Photography)

BUFFALO – The first thing you should know about Tyson Jost is that he’s a character kid. He blew away teams at the draft combine with his interviews and it’s not hard to predict him wearing the captain’s ‘C’ in the NHL some day. The dynamic two-way center will go in the first round tonight but he’ll be the first to tell you he didn’t get there alone.

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Report: Blackhawks’ top prospect Schmaltz leaves NCAA, signs entry-level deal

Jared Clinton
Nick Schmaltz (Elsa/Getty Images)

The key to a successful off-season for Chicago GM Stan Bowman is finding cheap, effective talent to keep the Blackhawks as competitive as they have been over the past several seasons in the Central Division. And it seems Bowman has started his summer by bringing in one of the Blackhawks’ top prospects.

The Chicago Tribune’s Chris Hine reported Sunday that 20-year-old center Nick Schmaltz has inked a three-year, entry-level contract with the Blackhawks, choosing to forego a third season at University of North Dakota and instead join the pro ranks. In THN’s Future Watch 2016, a panel of scouts ranked Schmaltz as Chicago’s best prospect, and 26th-best in the league, and his performance in the NCAA makes it clear why.

This past season, Schmaltz appeared in 37 games for the UND Fighting Hawks, scoring 11 goals and 46 points. He was a key part of UND’s top line, alongside Drake Caggiula and Brock Boeser, and Schmaltz scored one goal and four points in four games during UND’s Frozen Four national title victory. That’s not to mention his two-goal, eight-point World Junior Championship performance for Team USA. Read more