|08.29.16 at 1:28 pm ET|
BRIGHTON — Don Sweeney’s sales pitch to Jimmy Vesey was built around being David Krejci’s left wing. Vesey passed, but it doesn’t seem Krejci’s losing sleep over it.
“I’m not really disappointed with that guy,” Krejci said Monday of the Rangers rookie. “Obviously I heard he’s a good player, but he has to prove himself on the NHL level. I was more disappointed we weren’t able to keep Loui.”
Loui is, of course, Loui Eriksson, and Krejci had thoughts on that, too. The Bruins declined to give the 31-year-old Eriksson the $6 million cap hit over six years he got from the Canucks, but they signed 32-year-old David Backes to a five-year deal worth the same annually.
Though the Bruins prefer Backes’ character and toughness, Eriksson is the better player at this point and figures to age better. Furthermore, saying goodbye to Eriksson meant once again taking away one of Krejci’s trusted wings in what’s become an annual occurrence; Krejci has also seen the departures of linemates Nathan Horton (2013), Jerome Iginla (2014) and Milan Lucic (2015) in recent seasons.
“I felt like we had some good chemistry going, so that was kind of a tough time to see [Eriksson] go, but I’ve gotten kind of used to seeing my favorite guys going away — Milan, Nathan, Iggy,” Krejci said. “I’m going to have to just play my game and try to find chemistry with whoever’s going to be on my line.”
Regardless of how Krejci’s dealing with Vesey’s decision, the truth is that the former Harvard captain would have been a good get for both the Bruins and Krejci, something Krejci himself admitted. With Brad Marchand a good bet to stay in Boston long-term, Vesey could have held down Boston’s second-line left wing job for years alongside Krejci if the two were to click. With David Pastrnak still emerging, the Bruins would have had the makings of a very strong line going forward.
Asked for clarification on his words about Vesey, Krejci said that he understood the hullabaloo that surrounded the player, especially considering the timing of his sweepstakes.
“Mostly in the summer there isn’t much that people talk about; this was kind of on top of the list for people to talk about,” Krejci said. “Obviously there was a little pressure on him, but he brought it on himself, I guess.”
|08.20.16 at 12:58 am ET|
A signing of Jimmy Vesey very well could have bumped Matt Beleskey down Boston’s depth chart, but the veteran left wing made it clear late Friday night that he wanted the Bruins to sign the former Harvard captain.
Beleskey tweeted his displeasure with Vesey’s agreement with the Rangers, tweeting to the Vesey that he’d made a “bad decision.”
Naturally, Beleskey’s seemingly tongue-in-cheek tweet was met with some super-hilarious and inappropriate responses from Rangers fans. This response was retweeted by Beleskey:
Rangers Twitter VS. Matt Beleskey rn pic.twitter.com/ZavUn1HY1W
— Chris (@MciIrath) August 20, 2016
|08.19.16 at 9:53 pm ET|
Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton said on a conference call Friday night that the team did not make any promise of a top-six role before agreeing to terms with free agent left wing Jimmy Vesey.
“I never got the feeling that he was looking for any kind of promise,” Gorton said. “I think that he’s a pretty proud guy and I think he’s very confident in his abilities.”
Well, Vesey did have a promise of such a role from the Predators before he elected free agency and he had at least one more when he met with teams this week.
According to a source present at Wednesday’s meeting at Warrior Ice Arena, the Bruins told Vesey that he would be used as a top-six forward, most likely lining up to the left of David Krejci on Boston’s second line. Krejci was among the Bruins players present for Wednesday’s meeting, which lasted two and a half hours.
Vesey turned down the Bruins and six other teams — the Sabres, Blackhawks, Islanders, Penguins, Leafs and Devils — by electing to sign a two-year deal with the Rangers on Friday.
|08.19.16 at 6:08 pm ET|
Nashville and Buffalo’s loss did not end up being Boston’s gain, as free agent left wing Jimmy Vesey chose to sign a two-year entry level contract with the Rangers on Friday.
The Rangers are the third team to own Vesey’s rights, but they’ll be the first to actually dress him for an NHL game. The Predators drafted Vesey with the 66th overall pick in 2012 draft, but after returning for a senior year at Harvard, Vesey elected to not sign with the team and let his rights with the club expire. That prompted Nashville to trade him to Buffalo for a third-round pick prior to the draft.
After becoming a free agent at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Vesey spent two days meeting with seven teams: the Bruins, Blackhawks, Devils, Rangers, Islanders, Penguins and Leafs. Boston was the final team with which Vesey met, as the B’s hosted him at their new practice facility in Brighton for 2 1/2 hours Wednesday.
|08.19.16 at 1:11 pm ET|
Jimmy Vesey’s agent said that there are still “a handful of teams in the mix” as the player moves towards making his decision as to where he will sign his first pro contract.
Peter Fish said the Bruins are one of the teams still in the running and that reports that the Hobey Baker winner has whittled his list down to just the Rangers and Blackhawks are “not true.”
Vesey is expected to make his decision Friday or Saturday. After becoming a free agent at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Vesey spent two days meeting with seven teams: the Bruins, Blackhawks, Devils, Rangers, Islanders, Penguins and Leafs. Boston was the final team with which Vesey met. He also met with the Sabres after they acquired his rights in a pre-draft trade with Nashville.
|08.18.16 at 12:36 pm ET|
Jimmy Vesey is done with his meetings, but it doesn’t appear an announcement will come just yet.
Sticking to his anticipated timeline of expecting a decision by the weekend, agent Peter Fish said Vesey will not make his decision on Thursday.
“No decision today,” Fish said in a text to WEEI.com, adding that the player was “just taking everything in from the past couple of days and trying to digest and sort through.”
In total, Vesey has met with eight teams, including the Sabres, who held his rights until he became a free agent on Tuesday. Since then, Vesey has met with the Bruins, Blackhawks, Devils, Rangers, Islanders, Penguins and Leafs. Boston was the final team with which Vesey met, with the sides spending two and a half hours meeting at Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton.
Last season, Vesey won the Hobey Baker by putting up 24 goals and 22 assists for Harvard in 33 games.
|08.18.16 at 9:42 am ET|
The Bruins have made their pitch for Jimmy Vesey. Now they and seven other teams will wait as the player goes about whittling down his list.
While Boston is not the slam-dunk that many assume it is, the Bruins should at least have some confidence in their chances following a two-and-a-half-hour meeting with Vesey on Wednesday. They were Vesey’s last meeting, so as long as they didn’t Ari Gold it, they could have positioned themselves to be freshest in Vesey’s mind as the North Reading native goes about choosing his team. A source who was in the meetings said the Bruins did a “great job.”
So what happens if the Bruins land Vesey, and what happens if they don’t? Netting the Hobey Baker winner would add to something of a crowded left wing group, but it would position the B’s to help their right wing problem by moving someone like Frank Vatrano to the right side.
Outside of a potential Vesey addition, the biggest question with the Bruins’ lines is where to play David Backes. The former Blues captain spent most of his time with St. Louis as a center, but Boston’s depth chart lacks solid options at right wing after the departure of Loui Eriksson.
At least for now, the preference here is to play Backes as a right wing. This is partially because handing him the third-line center job would essentially be a punishment for Ryan Spooner, a young player who does not deserve for his job to be taken away after a mostly solid first full NHL season. Spooner put up 38 points (11 goals, 27 assists) over his first 51 games last season before a second-half slump (11 points in his final 29 games), though he was nagged by a lower-body injury down the stretch. The team should give Spooner the chance to continue to develop into a responsible center, especially since he’ll be due for a new contract after the coming season.
Regardless of his primary position, Backes figures to move around a bit. Assuming he starts off as a right wing, here’s a guess at line configurations for the Bruins, with or without Vesey.
Obviously, the lineup is a little trickier to project if Vesey is not in the mix. These projections have Danton Heinen making the leap to the NHL in his first year as a pro, but the B’s also have forward Austin Czarnik pushing for an NHL job after a strong year in the AHL (61 points in 68 games), Tyler Randell in the mix as a fourth-line right wing option and Seth Griffith still looking to carve out a full-time NHL gig.