The Nashville Predators and Jimmy Vesey of Harvard have been matched in the news a lot lately.
As a matter of fact, the last time we heard as much chatter about a player that wasn’t actually on the team was about Alexander Radulov when he was playing in Russia. Back then, when the Predators were starving for a forward, fans were wishing for the Russian winger to come back to the team. That didn’t work out especially well when he actually did.
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Part of the intrigue about young Jimmy Vesey is that fans don’t know as much about him as they would an NHL or minor league player. Scouts have said that with his size and touch he could join an NHL and be an immediate help. Players don’t always translate well from the college ranks to the Pros. There is no doubt that Vesey is one of the top college players.
Last year at Harvard, he scored 32 goals in 37 games, the most in the collegiate ranks and finished in the final three, just behind the second overall draft pick Jack Eichel in balloting for the Hobey Baker award, the Heisman Trophy of College Hockey.
In a recent article for The Players Tribune, entitled The Senior, Vesey explained how hard it was for him to turn down the Predators offer of jumping immediately to the team for the playoffs and foregoing his senior year at Harvard:
"It was the toughest decision I’ve ever made, but I turned the offer down and decided to go back to college for my senior year. I actually turned down my dream for another year of bus rides, dining hall food, and homework. Pretty nuts, huh?"
The Predators actually drafted Vesey in the third round, 66th overall, of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. He went to Harvard and is finishing his fourth year there. He has attended Predator Development camps and worked with strength and conditioning coaches. He can join the Predators at any time after the end of Harvard’s season if he signs an entry-level contract with them. They have his rights until August 15th of this year when he could actually become a free agent.
There have been so many rumors about whether he will come to the Predators or not. In reality, if anyone knows, it is only him. His father is a scout for the Toronto Maple Leafs and his brother is in their system. There has never been anything from Vesey saying that he has any interest in playing for anyone but the Predators. We wrote an article about those rumors here.
No one seems more optimistic about Vesey coming to the Predators than David Poile. We covered an interview he gave about Vesey in this article. In the past few days, he seems even more determined that Vesey will be wearing Predators Gold. He gave Vesey’s arrival as one of the main reasons he didn’t make a move at the Trade Deadline in this article on the Pred’s Website:
"“We’ve kept a spot open for him, and we’ve talked about when his season ends to bring him right onto our team put him right into our lineup,” Poile said of Vesey. “When you make a promise like that, you have to keep that promise. I didn’t want to trade away his spot. Acquiring a forward, a top-two line forward, for example, I think that would’ve probably not been fair to Jimmy Vesey, and I really feel with his potential, what he can do, that he was probably as good as any player I could’ve acquired at the trading deadline. “Whenever Harvard’s season is over, we look forward to signing Jimmy and bringing him on our team, and I think that’s going to be a great boost for our team at the perfect time of the season.”"
The biggest question is when Vesey would be able to join the Predators for the end of the season and playoff run. His team, Harvard, has not been quite as strong as was predicted and yet they are still ranked number 11 in the nation in the current rankings with a record of 16-9-4. Their RPI is also number 11. That means that even if they don’t win their conference championship, they are the third seed, they would surely be picked as an at-large team for the field of 16. Those teams are announced on March 20th.
The Regional Championships take place on the weekend of March 25th -27th at four locations. At each site, 4 teams will compete in the single-elimination competition. The two winning teams go against each other in a one-game Regional Final competition. The winning team from each of the four Regionals will advance to the Frozen Four in Tampa, Florida on April 7th and 9th. Thus, when his team is eliminated or wins the Frozen Four he can join the Predators.
That could be as late as April 9th which is the day of the final regular season game of the Predators against the Stars. If they qualify, they would then start the playoffs the following week. At that time, they may have a new Left Winger on their team.
Photo Credit to Kristen Jerkins Photography.