Unable to sign Jimmy Vesey each of the past two off-seasons, Nashville has traded the NHL rights of the 2016 Hobey Baker Award winner. His potential bus trip to NHL free agency is making a stop in Buffalo after the Sabres acquired them Monday for a 2016 third round pick.
Buffalo has until August 15th to sign Vesey. He then can become a free agent and sign with any of the 30 teams.
Vesey finished his college career this past year at Harvard with 144 points (80G-64A) in 128 games.
Named the ECAC and Ivy League player of the year each of the past two seasons, Vesey has been a key member of Harvard's turnaround during his four years with the Crimson. His first two seasons saw Harvard winning a combined twenty games. The Crimson nearly matched that total in each of Vesey's final two seasons, reaching the NCAA Tournament both years.
The North Reading, MA native surprised the college hockey world by coming back after a 32 goal junior season at Harvard rather than sign with the Predators. If it weren't for Jack Eichel's dominant season down the road Vesey would likely have won the Hobey Baker in 2015. Instead, his 46 point (24G-22A) senior season and compelling return story were enough this time around to convince the voters.
Trading Vesey's rising stock and NHL rights ends an obvious divorce between the two sides. He informed Nashville after this past season he was going to exercise his right to be an unrestricted free agent. In response the Predators took a page out of the Ryan Suter playbook by throwing Vesey under the bus, backing up and putting it in drive once again.
It's certainly a risk for Buffalo to give up a third round pick for six weeks of negotiations, but one the Sabres feel is worthwhile to try and match him on the same team with Eichel among others.
Nashville did receive back the same round pick it picked Vesey, the 66th overall pick in 2012. (If Vesey became a free agent the Predators would have received no compensation.) By receiving the 76th overall pick the Predators have become the sixth team to at one point have owned the selection, which almost matches the ongoing twists and turns of #VeseyWatch.