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Jimmy Vesey, the Harvard product who won the Hobey Baker Award as the best player in college hockey last season, is about to end all the drama and mystery when he chooses which NHL team he wants to play for on August 15th. When Vesey spurned the Nashville Predators this past spring and refused to sign with the team that drafted him, he instantly became the hottest free-agent on the market. Intrigue was added after his rights were traded to the Buffalo Sabres at the beginning of the summer, and hometown buddy Jack Eichel got the opportunity to recruit the former Crimson stud. Now all that remains is for Vesey to select which team he’ll call home and if the B’s are fortunate enough to land him, it’ll be the biggest offseason addition since Zdeno Chara 10 years ago. Yes that big.
Although all 30 teams technically have a shot at landing Vesey, realistically, only six teams are still in the running. Despite rumors swirling earlier today that the Bruins are not among the final three teams on Vesey’s list, I’d still put them in contention along with Toronto, Buffalo, Chicago, New Jersey, and the Rangers as the finalists. While Jimmy V is weighing his options and figuring out which club offers the best fit, the Bruins should be going all out for the coveted forward because they might need Vesey more than any other team on that list.
When Loui Eriksson left via free agency, the B’s lost a 30 goal scorer who was an integral part in Claude Juliens offensive system. With the David Backes signing, the Bruins added leadership and toughness, but failed to replace the goals they lost with Erikssons departure. If the B’s can land Vesey, they’ll have inherited a top prospect who can put the puck in the net with ease, and would also be saving cap space since Jimmy V’s contract will be less costly as a result of it being his entry-level deal.
From a roster standpoint, they’ll have more depth at the forward position which could allow Don Sweeney to dangle David Krejci or Ryan Spooner on the trade market for a top-tier defenseman. The B’s are still in dire need of a young, breakout defenseman and signing Vesey may be all that it takes for Sweeney to feel comfortable dealing away a player like Krejci or Spooner.
This would be a tremendous move seeing that acquiring a high-end defenseman would do more in transforming the Bruins from a fringe playoff team to a top six team in the East as opposed to a budding forward. Scorers are obviously very important to any hockey team, but anyone who watched the B’s last year knew their defense was their kryptonite and addressing that deficiency would have the Bruins in a much better postion as a whole come opening night. Not to mention the fact they’ll be adding to their supposed rebuild since the new defenseman will more than likely be on the younger side. If Sweeney can pull both of these potential deals off, his offseason grade would easily skyrocket from mediocre to excellent.
Jimmy Vesey may not necessarily need the Bruins to be successful, but the B’s would be a lot more successful as a team if Vesey signed (stayed) in Beantown. Adding Jimmy V to the current mix of players would cement an exceptional young corps without breaking the bank at the same time. His arrival would also prove to be an important one as multiple moves could follow, therefore making the B’s an even better all around team next season. However, before all of this can happen, Jimmy must make the call and pick the team he wants to play for, ending the summer-long debate. If it’s any consolation for Vesey, at least he’ll know the Bruins will have just as much riding on his decision so maybe he’ll end everyone’s nerves by picking the team that’s just down the road from the hallowed Harvard grounds.