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Buffalo Sabres push hard for NCAA star Jimmy Vesey

Ryan Kennedy
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Jimmy Vesey (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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Buffalo Sabres push hard for NCAA star Jimmy Vesey

Ryan Kennedy
By:

The team is on the upswing, but adding the former Harvard producer would make the Sabres all the more dangerous up front. Can a visit from team brass – including a former Crimson coach – sway the left winger before he hits the open market on Aug. 15?

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 Hobey Baker winner reportedly spent about two hours with Sabres GM Tim Murray, coach Dan Bylsma and assistant director of scouting Jerry Forton. If Forton seems like an odd choice, he's not: before coming to the Sabres, he was an assistant coach at Harvard, where his time overlapped with Vesey's tenure.

Buffalo also has a nice booster in Jack Eichel, who shares an agent/advisor with Vesey and is skating with the left winger this summer.

Trading for Vesey's rights gives the Sabres a recruiting edge on other teams, as Vesey can't sign an NHL contract with anyone else until Aug. 15. He already snubbed Nashville and it seems as though he is willing to wait until that August deadline. Keep in mind, no team can offer Vesey more money, since entry-level contracts are capped. So the Harvard alum's decision comes down to fit.

In Buffalo, he would compete for a top-six role on a team with Eichel and Ryan O'Reilly as potential centers. He would also be joining a Sabres team that is on the rise thanks to youngsters such as Eichel, Rasmus Ristolainen and Sam Reinhart, not to mention new veterans Kyle Okposo and Dmitry Kulikov.

But the Sabres have strong competition from two divisional rivals, the Bruins and the Leafs.

Boston brings the geographical advantage of being Vesey's hometown. That's who he grew up wanting to play for and that's the city he played his college hockey in. Plus, the Bruins have a ton of great veterans (Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, etc.) to help Vesey get acclimated to the pro ranks.

Toronto brings a family connection. The Leafs count younger brother Nolan Vesey as one of their prospects, while father Jim Vesey is a scout for the franchise. Toronto also counts an all-world coach in Mike Babcock and a roster in flux, where Vesey could compete for a significant role right away.

And there will always be a dark horse team no one thinks about. The Sabres know they have stiff competition and the visit to Boston is another flag planted in their quest. Will it pay off?

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Buffalo Sabres push hard for NCAA star Jimmy Vesey