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Jimmy Vesey starts journey to making the Rangers

Harvard Crimson forward Jimmy Vesey during the Harvard

Harvard Crimson forward Jimmy Vesey during the Harvard University at Boston University NCAA hockey match held at the Agganis Arena in Boston Massachusetts.

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — There’s nothing hidden here.

One of the two forwards in the spotlight for the Rangers in the upcoming Traverse City prospects tournament is Jimmy Vesey, who, along with Russian youngster Pavel Buchnevich, appears to have the best shot at making the re-engineered club out of camp.

The free-agency saga of Vesey, the 23-year-old Hobey Baker winner from Harvard, featured quiet lobbying by friends and in-person, front-office pitches by NHL suitors.

While the expectations are almost as high, the summer of Buchnevich, a 21-year-old drafted in 2013 who played in the KHL and is now trying to find his way in North America, has been much farther under the radar.

In the eight-team tournament, which begins Friday, they likely will be paired on the same line, which will be one to watch.

For Vesey, his decision to sign with the Rangers — not his hometown Bruins, or the powerhouse Chicago Blackhawks or the Buffalo Sabres, who traded for his rights, or a half-dozen other serious suitors — surprised many pundits. The job of proving that he made the right choice is beginning in Michigan.

“I try not to worry about others think. I know what I can do,” Vesey said before flying with the squad to Traverse City Thursday, a prelude to the full Rangers training camp, which begins next Thursday. “Nothing’s given in sports. I’m looking to turn some heads and earn a roster spot. In talking with the Rangers, they thought it was a great fit, but I’m not going to go in with the mindset that it’s given to me.”

In college, Vesey certainly could score: 56 goals and 48 assists in 70 games in his junior and senior years with the Crimson. The Blueshirts brass is counting on him to contribute offensively at the pro level.

Vesey has been in New York off and on for weeks, skating with a group of Rangers, including long-time friend Kevin Hayes, with whom he also played in a Foxboro, Massachusetts summer league. “I’m excited to get to know some of these guys . . . It’ll help prepare us for camp. I had a good summer in the weight room, committed myself even more this summer. It was definitely hectic, it’ll be nice just to just focus on playing.”

Vesey, who grew up as a Bruins fan in North Reading, Massachusetts, said he hasn’t been given grief from family and friends for choosing to come to Gotham.

“No, it’s been good, everyone understands what I went through . . . they’ve been supportive . . . Everyone’s on board with the Rangers,” he said, and repeated his thoughts on why he chose to come to Gotham and a franchise that will celebrate its 90th NHL season.

“Original Six, I’ve grown up with hockey, I’m from a hockey town . . . I wanted to play in a city where they appreciate hockey and I think New York offers that,” he said.


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