BUFFALO – Three years ago, the Sabres’ old regime gambled a bit, trading a third-round pick to the Nashville Predators for the rights to the Hobey Baker Award winner Jimmy Vesey.
But the high-scoring college winger rejected the Sabres, waited until mid-August to become a free agent and signed with the New York Rangers.
In his first trip to Buffalo as a rookie, Vesey, of course, was booed.
So the Sabres’ acquisition of Vesey today from the Rangers for a third-round pick in 2021 might not sit well with some fans. After all, he didn’t want to come to Buffalo, right?
Well, Vesey, 26, can certainly help the Sabres. While the Harvard product hasn’t become a star, he has compiled 50 goals and 90 points in 240 NHL games. He has scored 43 even-strength goals.
The 6-foot-3, 199-pound Vesey can provide scoring and depth, two areas the Sabres need sorely need to address. He could fit nicely in a top-six role.
Stay tuned for more updates.
Update: On a conference call this afternoon, Sabres general manager Jason Botterill mentioned Vesey playing in a top-nine role.
“I like his size and his speed to get up and down the ice,” Botterill said. “He has more of a two-way game the last couple of years, (the Rangers) utilized him more on the penalty kill last year. But I think the thing that really stands out for us is his ability to score even strength. I think he’s had 16 even-strength goals each of the last two seasons and had the ability to get to the front of the net that we’re trying to improve on.”
On a conference call, Vesey he’s “pumped to be on the team.”
“The whole time I had nothing but positive things to say about the organization and the pitch them made to me,” Vesey said of what he experienced from the Sabres in 2016. “But at that point three years ago, I had definitely made up my mind that I was going to go to free agency. That’s what I did.
“At that point, I thought New York was the best fit for me. It’s crazy how much things can change in three years.”