He hasn’t stepped foot on NHL or AHL ice, but since the 2012 NHL Draft there has not been a more dissected Nashville Predators prospect than Jimmy Vesey.
After being selected by the Predators with the 66th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, the forward decided to undergo his development at the collegiate level and attend Harvard University. Through 115 games, the senior has scored 72 goals and added 58 helpers for a total of 130 points. During his 2014-15 junior season, he won the ECAC scoring title with 53 points and lead the nation with 27 goals. He was a Hobey Baker Award Finalist alongside Buffalo Sabres forward Jack Eichel.
During this season, the Massachusetts’ native has 16 goals and 16 assists in 20 games while Harvard sits sec0nd in the ECAC standings with an overall record of 12-5-3. Vesey is sure to be a Hobey Baker finalist again this season as he sits tied atop the league in points alongside Quinnipiac forward Sam Anas.
Because he is a collegiate athlete, Vesey has not signed a contract with the Predators as it would violate NCAA rules. The Predators hold exclusive rights to Vesey until August 15, 2016 but after that he would be considered a free agent for any other team around the league to sign him.
On December 7, as the Predators visited the Boston Bruins, Vesey caught up with Adam Vingan of The Tennessean and expressed his loyalty and strong relationship with the club: “Yeah, I still have a great relationship with the team,” he said. “Development coach Scott Nichol and the Nashville scouts have been at my games and getting my game tapes and sending me feedback. I still have a great relationship with them. My dad’s a scout for the Leafs, but I wouldn’t read too much into that.”
Yes, Vesey’s father works as an amateur scout for the Toronto Maple Leafs but as Vesey said, there isn’t much more to the story other than that.
As far as when Vesey could join the Predators, the spring term at Harvard does not end until April 17, eight days after the Predators final regular season game. Harvard’s regular season ends on February 27, so a decision to join the club could come somewhere in between that time period.
It is worth noting that the Crimson’s season did not end until March 28 last year, as they fell to Nebraska – Omaha in the NCAA Midwest Regional. This year’s post season tournament begins on March 18.
If the 6’1” forward does decide to stay loyal to the team that drafted him, general manager David Poile has some high hopes as to where he could fit into the lineup in a very immediate basis. Poile joined 102.5 The Game in Nashville on Tuesday and said the following:
“We have no idea how long his season is going to, exactly, and again we have to sign him but as we have told him even as last week that we have a spot for him. I could see him immediately starting on [Ryan] Johansen’s line or [Mike] Fisher’s line. We would really like to give him a try.”
By “give him a try”, Poile means on the left-wing where the Predators are hurting a bit with Colin Wilson out with an injury but one that may see him come back sooner rather than later. The indication here is that the Predators are very much so looking for that top-line left winger to play with James Neal and Johansen on a consistent basis. Filip Forsberg fits there, but he has played very well on the second-line with Mike Ribeiro which Poile mentions in his interview. Nashville has also experimented with the likes of Viktor Arvidsson on the top line as well.
If Vesey signs, Poile suggests that he would immediately make his way to Nashville without a stint in the AHL with the Milwaukee Admirals.
If the Predators do in fact add the likes of Vesey, with Wilson healthy and bottom-six forward Gabriel Bourque also on the mend, their biggest trade deadline “acquisitions” could come from within the system.
The Predators rank 19th in the NHL with 2.49 goals scored per contest. Adding the offensively gifted Vesey could certainly serve as a helping hand both for this season and for the future.