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With Sabres meeting Vesey today, are Blackhawks a stealth contender?

The Jimmy Vesey Sweepstakes is heating up in earnest as the Sabres are expected to have their initial sit-down with the Hobey Baker Award winner today in Boston.

In John Vogl's story on Vesey, The News reported Wednesday night a charter company used by owner Terry Pegula had a plane leave Buffalo on Wednesday night and land at the suburban Boston airport frequented by the Sabres. Vesey confirmed to NHL.com after his summer league game Wednesday that he will be meeting with the Sabres today in Beantown.

"I think we have a small number of teams that I think we'll really be focusing on," Vesey said. "So, Aug. 15 we'll start talking to them and see what they say."

But while most of the Vesey talk has centered around the Sabres, Boston and Toronto, why is Vesey waiting until free agency on Aug. 15? Likely to see what other offers might be coming his way. The Chicago Blackhawks seem to be a good candidate and it would appear they're interested.

The Providence Journal reported that Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman was at Foxboro Sports Center on Wednesday watching Vesey's game.

The Hawks, of course, got big rewards last year by the addition of Artemi Panarin from the KHL. He ended up winning the Calder Trophy. They're perennially tight to the cap because of the monster contracts of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, among others, and have needs up front with the June trades of Teuvo Teravainen to Carolina and Andrew Shaw to Montreal.

Vesey would come cheap, at the entry-level maximum of $925,000 plus bonuses. Just like Panarin did. He could contribute immediately and the Blackhawks would give him a chance to play on a Stanley Cup contender out of the gate, rather than going to the promising rebuilds in Buffalo and Toronto or the confusing state of mediocrity the Bruins seem stuck on.

Vesey seems committed to waiting until he can talk to any team, not just the Sabres, before making a decision. The Blackhawks -- and potentially others -- have to be hoping he sticks to that stance.

 

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