Buffalo Sabres: Determining which UFAs will return next season

KeyBank Center Buffalo Sabres (Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images)
KeyBank Center Buffalo Sabres (Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images) /
3 of 7
Buffalo Sabres
Jimmy Vesey of the Buffalo Sabres (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

Jimmy Vesey

As most fans will know, the Sabres acquired Jimmy Vesey‘s rights from the Nashville Predators back in June 2016, in exchange for a 2016 third round draft pick. The idea was to give themselves exclusive negotiating rights before he became a free agent, after he declined to sign with the Predators.

At the time you could appreciate why Buffalo took the gamble. Vesey had a standout career at Harvard University, highlighted by winning the Hobey Baker Award in 2016, which is presented annually to the top hockey player in college.

The gamble didn’t pay off for the Sabres, as the 26-year-old declined to agree a deal and eventually signed with the New York Rangers. However, a second opportunity presented itself after last season, when Buffalo gave up another third round draft pick for Vesey in a trade with the Rangers.

Of course, the question now is whether or not the winger is worthy of being offered a new contact to remain in Western New York? In one respect he was on course for a career-lows in goals and overall points, even if he played an entire 82-game regular season for the first time in his four-year NHL career.

In fairness to Vesey though, this doesn’t come close to telling the whole story. While opinion of the plus/minus rating is divided, it is still worth noting he was +12, which was second-best on the Sabres and a worthy achievement when considering the team’s overall placing in the standings.

The Boston, Massachusetts native has the size and talent you look for in an NHL player; he is a good two-way player and can help on the power player. The biggest issue is whether he will actually ever fully take advantage of his potential?

Ultimately, the biggest issue for the Sabres is that Vesey will want more than his current salary of $2.35 million, along with the security of a long-term deal. With projections indicating more than $3 million per season over three or four years, it will be tough to justify bringing him back, no matter how much they like him.

Chance of returning next season: 25 percent