You didn’t think we were going to get through this summer without another down-to-the-wire sweepstakes, did you? With two weeks remaining until he officially hits the market Nashville Predators draft pick, Buffalo Sabres property, and Harvard University captain Jimmy Vesey has been reported to be leaning back towards the Toronto Maple Leafs as his top destination.
Some whispering that Toronto is, for now anyway, back in lead for Vesey sweepstakes. Should be interesting
— Adrian Dater (@adater) July 31, 2016
This is interesting, considering recent gossip about more competitive teams like the Chicago Blackhawks being in the mix. Of course, Toronto have been reported to be in the mix for Vesey since at least the beginning of last season, when people were beginning to gossip that the 23-year-old was considering leaving the Predators after graduation.
Perhaps Toronto’s biggest selling point remains the family connection; his dad, Jim Vesey Sr, works for the team as a scout while his brother Nolan was drafted by the Leafs in 2014 and remains in the system. Beyond that, though, as we mentioned a few weeks ago, there are some worthy, if not better alternatives to consider, such as the Sabres (who traded for him a few weeks back, have tons of money, and Jack Eichel to help convince him), the Predators, the Blackhawks, and the Boston Bruins. Betting on his family to remain there with him would be a tough risk, whereas other teams could give him more of a chance to play and/or win immediately.
There’s also a matter of bonuses to consider. Toronto has a lot of entry-level deals with performance incentives on the line, and one would imagine that Vesey will get the full $950,000 + $2.85 million from a team. He’s unlikely to hit them all, or even most, but it’s possible that the team is a little less aggressive given Lamoriello’s history (outside of Matthews) and how much they’ve already got waiting in the balance. That’s not to say he’d come out with just the base number, though; both of Toronto’s NCAA signings this year (Kasimir Kaskisuo and new addition Trevor Moore) were given full Schedule A’s.
Either way, Vesey, while not the sure thing superstar that his biggest fans hype him up to be, would be a great “free wallet” get for any team. If the Leafs are once again at the forefront of the conversation, despite a risk of hurdles and Vesey potentially having better options, that’s a very good sign for the team’s brand power and another push towards depth in the youth group.