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Jimmy Vesey free agency 2016: Teams begin meeting with coveted forward Tuesday

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Here's the latest on the Hawks' pursuit of the 23-year-old Hobey Baker winner.

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Jimmy Vesey is officially a free agent, and that makes him a very popular man right now. The reigning Hobey Baker winner will be meeting with several teams over the next two days, with his agent, Peter Fish, telling the Associated Press that a decision likely won't come before Friday or Saturday.

When Kevin Hayes became a free agent in 2014, he took about five days to agree to a deal with the New York Rangers. Friday or Saturday would put Vesey on a similar timetable as the rookie decides which team to sign an entry-level contract with.

The fact that Vesey's financial terms are limited by league rules makes his pursuit especially interesting. Nobody can offer more than a two-year maximum ELC -- $832,500 base salary, $92,500 signing bonus, $2.85 million in performance bonuses -- so teams will be selling him on other things. The Hawks are expected to pitch the opportunity to play with Jonathan Toews, while the Leafs are reportedly planning to do the same with Auston Matthews.

According to Mark Divver of the Providence Journal, four teams will get to meet with Vesey on Tuesday: the Maple Leafs, Penguins, Devils and Islanders. Other teams expected to meet with him by Wednesday are the Blackhawks, Rangers and Bruins. The Sabres, who held Vesey's rights after the past few months following a trade with Nashville, already made their pitch to the player's camp over the past few days.

Like with Chicago with Toews and Toronto with Matthews, Buffalo's pitch likely includes the chance to play with Jack Eichel, who reportedly spent the summer working out and playing with Vesey. Still, none of that sold Vesey on skipping his meetings with other teams, so it's clear that he's at least holding out some interest that another team will impress him more than Buffalo has.

For the Blackhawks, who have seemingly bounced around from being a favorite to on the fringe of this sweepstakes, the one thing that's clear is their interest. One executive told The Athletic's Scott Powers they thought GM Stan Bowman was being too aggressive in his pursuit, which included multiple scouting trips to Massachusetts. Still, the Hawks are among the finalists and will have the chance to make a compelling pitch to Vesey.

It seems like the biggest thing that will drive Vesey's decision is the opportunity he receives from Day 1. He's already 23 years old, so he's close to his prime and needs to get moving on progressing into his career. With the chance at an RFA payday just two years away, he needs to start racking up numbers as a rookie if he really wants to get paid on his next contract. And of course, with all those performance bonuses, he'll likely want to go to a team where he actually stands a chance of reaching some of them. With the Hawks, they can point to Artemi Panarin and note that, hey, if you're really good, you'll rack up stats here.

Whether that'll sell Vesey on signing with Chicago over the other teams is hard to say. Some reports have indicated the team is a favorite to land him -- Powers quotes one exec who says he "always thought [Vesey] was Chicago’s to lose" -- but it seems like these meetings over the next two days will go a long way toward determining which place is most appealing to Vesey. The Hawks will surely have a compelling offer, and won the Panarin sweepstakes under somewhat similar circumstances (i.e. highly coveted young player with many similar offers), but it's hard to say which way Vesey will ultimately go.

Luckily we should know by the end of the weekend.