Updates on Vesey and Vrbata – August 15, 2016
More speculation on which NHL team college star Jimmy Vesey will sign with, plus Radim Vrbata could be returning to the Arizona Coyotes.
LATEST ON VESEY
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harringston reports college star Jimmy Vesey becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency at midnight tonight. The Buffalo Sabres currently own the rights to the 23-year-old left wing, who is this year’s winner of the Hobey Baker Award, and they’re still negotiating with the youngster in hopes of signing him.
Other prominent clubs believed in the mix include the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils and Toronto Maple Leafs. Because Vesey will be signing an entry-level deal that caps his base salary at $925K and also caps performance bonuses, money won’t be a factor in where he signs. Roster composition and the role he’ll play will be among the notable factors. The Blackhawks are rumored contemplating placing Vesey on a line with superstars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
The Sabres have yet to re-sign restricted free agents Rasmus Ristolainen and Zemgus Girgensons. “While talks on both fronts are continuing, it’s possible the Sabres could have a move in the offing for Girgensons if they land Vesey.”
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Chris Hine reports the Blackhawks are hoping to sign Vesey. In recent weeks, they’ve scouted him during his offseason training. If the Hawks signs Vesey, Hine speculates the young winger could skate alongside Jonathan Toews.
NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis reports the Vesey camp sees the New York Rangers as a potential fit. “I think to any free agent, the Rangers are an interesting option,”said agent Peter Fish, who represents the college star. The Rangers also have two Boston College stars (forwards Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes) on their roster.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was originally reported Vesey would be eligible for UFA status today, but it turns out his camp will be notifying the teams they wish to speak with today. We could find out as early as tomorrow which club Vesey ultimately joins, as he’s not expected to take long in reaching a decision.
It was assumed the Leafs could be among the front-runners, as his father is employed as a Toronto scout and his brother was drafted by them. However, there’s been little mention of Vesey in the Toronto media. Perhaps their focus is on the Summer Olympics and the Toronto Blue Jays, but it’s still unusual that he’s not getting much attention.
Girgensons’ stock dropped last season, which explains why the Sabres could be willing to part with him if they sign Vesey. It’s believed GM Tim Murray hopes to bolster his defense and had interest in Anaheim Ducks blueliner Cam Fowler. Perhaps Girgensons gets packaged in a larger deal for Fowler? We’ll find out soon enough.
VRBATA COULD RETURN WITH COYOTES
ARIZONA SPORTS: Craig Morgan reports sources say right wing Radim Vrbata could be returning to the Arizona Coyotes, where he spent six seasons. It’s believed Vrbata and the Coyotes are working out a one-year deal that could be officially announced today.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: So much for recent speculation suggesting Vrbata, who played the last two seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, might return to the Canucks for the upcoming season. The ‘Yotes could use some experienced depth on the right side. Vrbata, 35, could be good for 15 goals and 30 points in 2016-17.