BUFFALO – New York Rangers rookie Jimmy Vesey isn’t sure how Sabres fans will react to him tonight.
“I’m not really worried about that,” Vesey said this afternoon inside KeyBank Center. “At the end of the day, I made one decision. It might’ve (ticked) some people off. It was never my intention.”
That decision, of course, was to pass on the signing with the Sabres, who acquired his rights June 20, and become an unrestricted free agent.
Most NCAA players – Vesey played four seasons at Harvard University, winning the Hobey Baker Award in 2015-16 – sign with the team that drafted them. But Vesey, 23, spurned the Nashville Predators, who selected him 66th overall in 2012, and made it known he planned to hit the open market.
“Everyone has their opinion on it,” the winger said. “I talked to my agents and my family. We thought it was the best decision and route to go.”
While Vesey met with the Sabres in July, it was apparent early on he had no intention of coming here. After about six weeks of some odd media coverage – reporters starting showing up to his summer league games outside Boston – he signed with the Rangers on Aug. 19.
“I couldn’t be happier with my decision right now,” he said.
Vesey clearly wanted no part of any questions about the Sabres and why he hit free agency.
“It’s all behind me,” he said. “We’re 25 games in right now, so that’s pretty much all in the past.”
Vesey has fit in nicely with the Rangers, scoring eight goals and 14 points in 24 games.
“It’s been an awesome experience so far, kind of a different lifestyle than college, being a pro and dedicating all my time to hockey,” he said.
Sabres center Jack Eichel, Vesey’s summer league teammate, said he respects Vesey’s decision.
“He’s a free agent,” Eichel said. “It’s his own decision to make a decision where he wants to play at. If any of us were in (that) situation, I’m sure a lot would go into a decision like that.”