Jack Eichel hopes his friend Jimmy Vesey will sign with the Sabres. (Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports)
BUFFALO — When the Sabres sent a third-round pick to the Predators for the rights to North Reading native and stud left wing prospect Jimmy Vesey, their hope was obvious: Vesey would pass up his promise to go to unrestricted free agency and instead team with fellow Massachusetts native and Jack Eichel to solidify a young offensive nucleus in Buffalo.
The promise hasn’t changed, however. Vesey’s camp said the day of the trade that the player would still go to free agency on Aug. 15. Should that hold true, all the Sabres have is time to sell him on their plan so that when all is said and done, Buffalo is the player’s choice in free agency.
Fortunately for the Sabres, they have one of the most talented young players in the league as a recruiting tool. Yet while Eichel put in his sales pitch soon after Monday’s trade (the two work out together every day), he doesn’t expect any good news before Aug. 15.
“I don’t think in his mind anything has changed,” Eichel told WEEI.com Thursday. “I think he’s still going to wait until free agency, but it’s nice to have him part of the organization, I guess. It would be great if he came to the Sabres, but he’s going to do whatever’s best for him at that point.”
Furthermore, the 2015 second overall pick is aware of the looming threat on Causeway Street. Shortly after Vesey announced his intentions to not sign with the Predators and instead head for free agency, chatter began (and a Boston Herald report outwardly said) that Vesey had his sights set on signing with the hometown Bruins.
Though Eichel thinks Vesey would make a hell of a Sabre, he can recognize that the Bruins might represent a threat to his teams odds of landing the player.
“I mean, he grows up in Boston watching the Bruins and obviously I think that’s got to be in the back of his mind,” Eichel said. “He went to school in Boston at Harvard, so he’s comfortable and familiar with that area. If that’s his preference and that’s what he wants to do, then I’m sure he’ll do it. But I’m sure he has options and a lot of things going through his head, so I know he’ll just take his time and make his decision. [I wish him] all the best.”
Eichel, who played with Vesey for Team USA at last year’s World Championships and is currently playing in a summer league with Vesey, was modest in expressing how much influence his recommendation will have with Vesey. He noted that Vesey will take advantage of his options as a free agency and consider his own preferences and those of his family and agents.
“Obviously he’s a great player, he’s a good kid,” Eichel said. “He’d bring a lot to the [Sabres]. Any time you can get good players, it’s always good. If he comes to Buffalo, I know he’ll enjoy it. It’s a great city to play for, [but] I think at the end of the day he’ll make whatever decision is best for him.”