clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Jimmy Vesey picks Rangers over Blackhawks, others in free agency

New, comments

The 2016 Hobey Baker winner inks a two-year deal with New York.

2016 Hobey Baker Memorial Award Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Jimmy Vesey is heading to New York.

The Rangers signed Vesey, an unrestricted free agent forward, to a two-year entry-level contract, the team announced Friday. The move comes after the 2016 Hobey Baker winner met with several teams Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss where he would sign after hitting the market.

There had been reports that his choices were down to the Blackhawks and Rangers, and while it’s unclear if that’s true, New York has indeed won the sweepstakes.

Vesey’s free agency became the biggest story in the hockey during the past week as teams lined up for the chance to meet with him. He trimmed his list down to seven finalists that came to Boston to sit down with him, then took a couple days to make his final decision.

The move to select New York is both surprising and predictable. As a Boston native, there was speculation he preferred to play closer to home in New England, which made the Hawks a long shot. The Rangers are a big-market team with opportunities and employ his friend Kevin Hayes, so it’s easy to see why they were an appealing choice.

The Blackhawks were aggressive in trying to sign Vesey. GM Stan Bowman scouted Vesey in person multiple times this summer and the team brought Patrick Kane to Boston for its meeting Wednesday. It was clear weeks ago that Chicago was targeting Vesey as a potential missing piece for their latest Stanley Cup run, but fell short in that pursuit.

Vesey picked the Rangers over the Blackhawks, Bruins, Devils, Maple Leafs, Penguins, Islanders and Sabres. Buffalo held his rights most of the summer following a trade with the Predators, but failed to come to an agreement with the 23-year-old before he had the option of becoming a free agent Tuesday.

Nashville selected Vesey with the No. 66 overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft. The winger finished his senior season at Harvard with a team-best 24 goals and 46 points in 33 games. He was also named to the 2015-16 AHCA/CCM Hockey Men’s Division I East All-America Team. The ECAC and Ivy League Player of the Year each of the last two seasons, Vesey led the ECAC in goals (17) and points (32) during the conference schedule.