|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.
|Agent says Jimmy Vesey’s preferred teams are in Eastern Conference, including Bruins||08.14.16 at 4:37 pm ET|
Agent Peter Fish told WEEI.com’s DJ Bean that left wing Jimmy Vesey is a good bet to pick an Eastern Conference team when he makes his decision as a free agent this week. The following is an excerpt from Sunday’s piece on the status of the North Reading native:
According to sources familiar with the situation, Vesey has a short list of five or six teams that includes the Bruins and other teams in the northeast area, including the Rangers, Devils and Sabres. A source indicated that the player has something of a preference to play in the northeast; Fish declined to confirm, noting that Eastern Conference teams top Vesey’s list but that anything is possible. To that point, the Blackhawks remain on Vesey’s list after scouting him throughout the summer.
Because not much has changed regarding the player’s status, there has been merry-go-round speculation this summer. The Bruins were initially considered the best bet to sign Vesey after he indicated to Nashville that he would go to free agency.
Vesey’s camp monitored the offseason to see how roster-building might impact his fit with the clubs they desired and were not discouraged by Don Sweeney’s moves. Though the emergence of other teams piquing the player’s interest have played into the revolving door regarding rumored favorites, Vesey’s camp cannot envision a scenario in which the Bruins aren’t among the finalists for the player.
“There’s no question that the Boston Bruins are going to have their say [if Vesey becomes a free agent],” Fish said. “There’s obviously room on their depth chart for Jimmy and he grew up a Bruins fan. They’re obviously, in my opinion, a well-run organization. They’re going to have their say.”
|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.
|Adam McQuaid thinks he and Kevan Miller can both improve||08.08.16 at 8:35 pm ET|
Last summer, the Bruins signed Adam McQuaid to a four-year extension and seemingly left the writing on the wall for Kevan Miller. Both right-shot third-pairing defensemen with similar strengths (read: toughness) and less than a year apart in age, it seemed unlikely both players would get new contracts.
Then the Bruins signed Miller to a four-year deal a year later. The move reflected how desperate the Bruins were to stop the bleeding on defense, even if it meant having something of a positional redundancy signed up for a combined $5.25 million against the cap.
Of course, the signing could have meant that they didn’t intend on keeping both players, so when the Bruins signed the 28-year-old Miller in May, it was natural to wonder if perhaps McQuaid would be on the move. Though he skated in 64 games last season (his most since the 2011-12 season), McQuaid wouldn’t figure to fetch much in a trade because of his cap hit ($2.75 million), but the team could have opted to move his money and spend it elsewhere. Speaking at Shawn Thornton’s golf tournament Monday, McQuaid said he didn’t take the Miller signing as an indication he might be moved.
“Those are the questions that everyone asks and people are wondering about, but at the same time, I think there’s a chance for both of us to continue to improve our game and hopefully be more well-rounded and grab the opportunity to play bigger minutes against tougher opposition and stuff,” McQuaid said.
As for his reaction to the contract itself, McQuaid seemingly felt differently than the many who assumed the Bruins might have let Miller walk in free agency.
“I’m not really surprised by anything,” McQuaid said. “You’re not sure how things will play out in different ways, but I wasn’t surprised. I think in my opinion, Millsy’s underrated in a lot of ways. [He’s] a guy that continues to improve and a guy that you appreciate having on your team.”
Though McQuaid has two inches on Miller, both weigh around 210 pounds and rely on physicality as stay-at-home defensemen. Injuries to one or the other has limited the time the Bruins have had to build their six-man D group relying on both being in, but last season saw both players both dress in at least three quarters of the season’s games (Miller played in 71).
As the following usage chart from Corsica Hockey indicates, the Bruins gave Miller and McQuaid similar assignments regarding their quality of competition and zone starts, though Miller fared better in terms of puck possession.
Both players spent most of their even-strength minutes with Torey Krug and had Zdeno Chara as their second-most common partners. Miller had better possession metrics with both Krug and Chara than McQuaid did, though the Bruins did better in terms of goals for per 60 when Chara was paired with McQuaid rather than Miller.
Of course, the goal should not be to have either player paired with Chara. Given the Bruins’ current roster, it would appear that either McQuaid, Miller or Colin Miller will be heading into the season. None of those situations are ideal, as the Bruins need a budding top defenseman to pair with Chara as Boston’s captain continues to regress. Right now they don’t have that. What they do have is a lot of OK right-shot defensemen.