Stop me if you have heard this one before; the Buffalo Sabres are interested in Jimmy Vesey.
Per Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts:
9. There’s a ton of trade talk. Among the most aggressive teams: Buffalo, Calgary, Chicago, Minnesota, Nashville, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Vancouver, Vegas, Washington and Winnipeg. Depending on how the draft goes, we could see some frenetic attempts to move up and down. The Sabres have talked to the Rangers about Jimmy Vesey.
This isn’t shocking, as the Sabres traded a third round pick in 2016 to the Nashville Predators in an attempt to sign the soon-to-be college free agent after it was clear he wasn’t going to sign with the Preds.
Ultimately he didn’t sign with Buffalo, but instead signed with the Blueshirts. Vesey carries a cap hit of $2.275 million, and is in the final year of his contract with the Rangers. He is coming off a career year which saw him tally 17 goals, 18 assists, and 35 points in 81 games, and the Sabres could be looking at him as a player who has shown offensive improvement since entering the league.
A quick look at the Sabres’ roster shows a left wing depth including Jeff Skinner, Victor Olofsson, Conor Sheary, and Zemgus Girgensons so it makes sense why the team would have some interest in Vesey. Of this group, Skinner is a clear fit for the first line, as he just signed a mega contract worth $9 million a season.
Olofsson is someone who should be in the mix for the second line as he followed up his 2017-18 SHL campaign of 43 points in 50 games with a great AHL rookie year that saw him tally 63 points in 66 games. In the event that he isn’t yet ready for full time second line duty, he’s someone that could skate on the third line and be bumped up to the second depending on how things are going
Sheary is a Vesey like player who posted 34 points in his first season in Buffalo, and it was an improvement from the 30 points in 79 games he had in his final season in Pittsburgh, but a far cry from his 2016-17 campaign which saw him tally 53 points in just 61 games. The 27-year-old also plays right wing, and will be a free agent next summer after his current deal worth $3 million a season expires.
Girgensons is an RFA, and he hasn’t been anything spectacular in his career to date. There are also players on their Cap Friendly page listed at LW such as Vladimir Sobotka, someone who also plays center and is in the final year of his deal making $3.5 million.
As it stands the Sabres have $20,415,476 in projected cap space with RFAs like Girgensons, Johan Larsson, Evan Rodrigues, Jake McCabe, and Linus Ullmark needing new contracts. Jason Pominville is the lone UFA.
Overall, it is an interesting situation because Vesey has turned down the Sabres before, and if he is unlikely to sign with them as a free agent it could limit the Rangers’ potential return.
The concept of trading Vesey makes sense, and it is something Larry Brooks wrote about in April. The team is projected to have a major log jam on the wing, so it will be interesting to see how this situation proceeds with Buffalo, and if any other teams will show interest in Vesey ahead of the draft and/or free agency.
What are your thoughts on trading Vesey, and what could he fetch in return?