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Sabres ready for Vesey’s free agency

Jimmy Vesey is going to have his pick of NHL teams. College hockey’s best player has outlined his wish list.

“I’ll look at what a team has in terms of NHL roster, and also what it has in the prospect pool,” Vesey told the Boston Herald. “I’ll also be looking at the coaches and what style of play is going to fit me the best. The city, definitely.

“There’s a lot that’s going to go into it. I’m excited about it, and I can’t wait to see where I’m going to end up.”

The Sabres can’t wait, either. Although they can’t comment on Vesey because he is property of the Nashville Predators, General Manager Tim Murray has dropped hints that Buffalo will call Vesey on Aug. 15, when the 22-year-old becomes a free agent.

Vesey, who won the Hobey Baker Award with Harvard after recording 24 goals and 46 points in 33 games, would fill a void in Buffalo. The Sabres lack top-end talent and organizational depth at left wing, and the 6-foot-3, 205-pounder appears ready for the NHL. He totaled 56 goals and 104 points during his junior and senior seasons.

“On Aug. 15, I can start talking to teams and see what they’re going to say to me,” Vesey told the Herald at a Harvard hockey event. “Then I think we’ll probably take several days after that to come to a decision.”

The Sabres will compete against nearly everyone for Vesey’s services, specifically the Boston Bruins. He is a Massachusetts native. His father, Jim, works for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“The Bruins will definitely be on my list of teams,” Vesey said. “Growing up I was a huge Bruins fan. I wore No. 19 the last five years, which was inspired by Joe Thornton. He was always my favorite player.

“I saw the Bruins win the Stanley Cup in 2011. I think it’s any kid’s dream to play for his hometown team. I’m definitely going to want to hear what they have to say.”

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Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine, the presumptive top picks in the NHL Draft, have been invited to visit Buffalo early and attend the NHL Scouting Combine.

The league has invited 114 prospects to the combine, NHL Central Scouting announced Tuesday. Matthews, an American center, and Laine, a Finnish winger, top the list.

“Combine week is always an interesting event for Central Scouting that seems to go by very quickly,” said Dan Marr, director of Central Scouting. “The goal is to present an event that allows NHL personnel to interact with the future stars of our game and assist the NHL clubs in their pursuit of gaining as much knowledge about the draft prospects as possible.

“Central Scouting looks forward to hosting the prospects during combine week so that they can further showcase themselves.”

The combine, which is closed to the public, will be held May 29 through June 4. Teams will conduct interviews May 30 through June 3 in First Niagara Center. The majority of the fitness testing will take place June 4 in HarborCenter.

Buffalo will host the draft June 24-25 in First Niagara Center.

email: jvogl@buffnews.com

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