Jimmy Vesey, the NHL’s most coveted unrestricted fee agent, is off the market.
Though his NHL rights have been held by both the Nashville Predators and Buffalo Sabres, the NCAA star ended the rampant speculation Friday when he signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the New York Rangers.
After becoming an unrestricted free agent Tuesday, the 23-year-old Vesey entertained offers from his shortlist of suitors earlier this week in Boston.
Buffalo traded a third-round pick to Nashville on June 30 in order to gain an exclusive 45-day negotiating window with the 23-year-old, who was steadfast in his intent to explore the open market. Like the Predators before them, talks with the Sabres failed to yield a deal.
In addition to the clubs invited to present, the Columbus Blue Jackets, Carolina Hurricanes, Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings also reportedly expressed interest in the 2016 Hobey Baker Award winner.
With money not a major concern for an entry-level contract — even if Vesey maxes out his performances bonuses, he’ll make less than $4 million per year — other factors played big in his decision: geography, role, personal connections, and championship chances.
The 23-year-old Harvard graduate is projected to develop into a dependable top-six left wing who can contribute at both ends of the ice. Vesey averaged well over a point per game in his final two NCAA seasons.