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Sabres GM says it's Jimmy Vesey's 'show right now'

Tim Murray hopes to sign 2016 Hobey Baker winner but isn't going to 'sit at home and speculate about this'

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Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray said Tuesday he "felt really good" about the meeting last week with free agent forward Jimmy Vesey.

"It is what it is," Murray said at Sabres development camp. "We made a trade, we traded one of our four third-round picks to be able to talk to him. We went down there and spoke to him. I told him he doesn't owe anybody anything. He went to school for four years and he became a free agent. He needs to make the right decision for him, there's no timetable. I felt really good about the meeting. I got great feedback about the meeting."

The Sabres have exclusive negotiating rights with Vesey, 23, until Aug. 15, when he can become an unrestricted free agent. They acquired those rights June 20 by trading a third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft to the Nashville Predators, who had selected Vesey in the third round (No. 66) of the 2012 draft but were unable to sign him.

Murray and Sabres coach Dan Bylsma met with Vesey and his representatives for the first time Thursday in Boston.

Peter Fish, one of Vesey's agents, told The Buffalo News that the meeting with the Sabres went "very well," but he wouldn't comment on whether it would affect their chances of signing the 2016 Hobey Baker Award winner from Harvard. Another agent, Peter Donatelli, told ESPN it was "the first meeting and [was] very informative."

Video: What does the future hold for prospect Jimmy Vesey?

Murray said the Sabres feel they have made their pitch.

"This is his show right now," Murray said. "If he wants to come in here or he wants to reach out to us and have another meeting, we're there. But for me, this is in his court and I don't sit at home and speculate about this. He's either going to sign here or he's not. If he doesn't, it's going to be obviously not the decision we want, and then you guys will call me a dummy for trading away a third-round pick, but I've got all the scenarios and I'm ready for them all, but it's up to him, it's his time."

Murray commented on Bylsma's lofty expectations for the Sabres this season, including a prediction of 95 points. Buffalo had 54 points in 2014-15 and 81 last season.

"It's nice to say that playoffs are a definite goal and you actually mean it when you say it," Murray said. "Ninety-five points is a nice number. I haven't looked at [it] that close yet, but expectations are the playoffs and expectations are to be competitive. Our young kids that played on the team last year, we expect to take a step. We signed Kyle [Okposo], which was a big step forward. I think we all believe that there's been lots of improvement here and yet there's lots of room for more. I don't know where Dan came up with the 95, but I'll take a look at that later on when I have time."

The Sabres signed Okposo to a seven-year contract reportedley worth $42 million, an average annual value of $6 million, on July 1. Murray also added defenseman Dmitry Kulikov in a trade with the Florida Panthers on June 25. Despite these moves and young talent throughout the Sabres roster, Murray said he may explore a few more minor additions through free agency.

"I'd like to," he said. "I'm not sure where I am yet on that. I still think we need one or two [defensemen], whether it's an NHL [defenseman] and an [American Hockey League defenseman] or depth [defenseman], is it two depth [defensemen], I'm not sure yet. I've been focused on the combine, free agency, the draft and now development camp, and we've done two or three at one time here.

"Obviously free agency has slowed down, but there are still guys out there and I got to regroup with my scouting staff and make some decisions. But yes, ideally at least one more signing would benefit the organization."

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