|Jimmy Vesey agrees to deal with Rangers||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.
|Agent: Bruins still in play for Jimmy Vesey; reports of 2-team list ‘not true’||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.
|Agent: Jimmy Vesey’s decision won’t come Thursday||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.
|Projecting Bruins lines with or without Jimmy Vesey||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.
|Bruins did ‘great job’ in 2 1/2-hour meeting with Jimmy Vesey||08.17.16 at 9:36 pm ET|
After meeting with seven teams the last two days, Jimmy Vesey is not planning on additional meetings before making his decision, a source close to Vesey told WEEI.com Wednesday night.
Vesey met with the Bruins for 2 1/2 hours Wednesday at Warrior Ice Arena, marking his final scheduled meeting. The source noted that the Bruins “did a great job” in their pitch for the North Reading native.
Vesey also met with the Devils, Blackhawks, Rangers, Islanders, Maple Leafs and Penguins over the last two days. It is anticipated that he will begin whittling his list down on Thursday, with a decision expected to come by the weekend.
As most teams do, the Bruins covet the Hobey Baker winner as a left wing for one of their top two lines. If the B’s were able to secure the Harvard grad, he likely would slot behind Brad Marchand on Boston’s depth chart as their second-line left wing.
Last season, Vesey scored 24 goals and added 22 assists for 46 points in 33 games for Harvard.
|Bruins meet with Jimmy Vesey||08.17.16 at 5:42 pm ET|
The Bruins were set to meet with Jimmy Vesey Wednesday afternoon, according to a source familiar with the situation, though it’s unclear whether the meeting has since concluded. Boston’s push to woo the free agent left wing was held at Warrior Ice Arena, the team’s yet-to-open practice facility in Brighton.
Vesey, a third-round pick of the Predators in 2012, did not sign with the team after four years at Harvard and opted to become a free agent, leading the team to trade his rights to the Sabres. The player followed through with his intentions, hitting the open market on Tuesday and meeting with the Devils, Blackhawks, Rangers, Islanders, Maple Leafs and Penguins over the last two days.
A native of North Reading, Vesey scored 24 goals and added 22 assists for 46 points in 33 games as a senior en route to winning the Hobey Baker as the best player in college hockey.
|Shawn Thornton intends to work in business, not media, after playing days end||08.09.16 at 11:16 am ET|
Last offseason, Tuukka Rask let it slip during the annual NESN/WEEI Jimmy Fund radio-telethon, but then again, it didn’t seem to be a much of a secret: The 2015-16 season would be Shawn Thornton’s last in the NHL.
The news didn’t come as a surprise to anyone, as Thornton was entering the final year of his contract with the Panthers and, given that the league was moving away from his style of player, the likelihood that a team would pay him for his age 39 season seemed slim.
Calling himself a “realist,” Thornton had told his friends that his career was in its final months. In fact, the former Bruin had booked a retirement golf trip consisting of nine days in Ireland and a week in Scotland for this summer.
Then again, Thornton was playing for the Panthers. As Jaromir Jagr can attest, they like old guys down there. In February, the Panthers offered him a deal for the 2016-17 season.
“When they offered another year, I sprained my finger signing the thing before they changed their minds,” Thornton said Monday at his Putts and Punches for Parkinson’s golf tournament.
Thornton still made the Ireland trip (“It probably took years off my life,” he quipped) but canceled the Scotland portion. After all, he’s now got to prepare for the last season of his career, and this time it figures to actually stick.
It’s the aftermath of that season where things get interesting. After years of putting in his time on Comcast SportsNet New England and working as a guest analyst for NBC Sports during the 2015 playoffs, Thornton had intended to work in the media after his playing days ended. However, a good relationship with Panthers management has inspired him to reverse course, and instead he expects to take a job with the Panthers on the business side upon retiring from playing.
“As we know, things change year-to-year — this would have been a different conversation last year — but as of right now I think I’m probably leaning more towards the business side of hockey,” he said. “Once the season’s over, I’ll probably move into that role in Florida.”
Added Thornton: “Media, I did a lot and that’s exactly where I thought I was going to end up going, but if the opportunity is still there to get into learning something new in the business side of sports, I just see a ton of upside to that for longer in life.”
Thornton, who has a home in Charlestown, had said after the team opted not to sign him in 2014 that he would remain a resident of Charlestown regardless of where he played. Now, he admitted, an office job in Florida would force him to “re-evaluate things.”
The real shame of it is that it doesn’t seem he’ll pursue his acting career.