Predators Play Waiting Game With Jimmy Vesey

Harvard University senior forward and Hobey Baker Award candidate Jimmy Vesey, who was selected by the club in the third round of the 2012 NHL Draft, is a part of a rich hockey family. Those ties have been the center of recent speculation on if he’ll sign his entry-level deal or go elsewhere and become a free agent.

One of the biggest concerns for the Nashville Predators was depth in their bottom six. That issues seems to be not as dire as it was last season, but there is uncertainty about Vesey. The Harvard forward could make an instant impact.

Vesey has been lightning up college hockey for the last couple seasons, and there is a big concern he might not sign with the Predators and go into free agency. General manager David Poile tried last offseason to bring the young sniper into the fold, but Vesey decided to return to college for his senior season.

The only thing the Predators can do is play the waiting game while Vesey plays his senior season.

Vini, Vidi, Vesey

The 6’3”, 203-pound left-wing has been on a tear the last two seasons. Vesey actually outscored Buffalo Sabres young gun and second overall selection in the 2015 NHL Draft Jack Eichel of Boston University. Vesey scored 32 goals and was one of the three finalists for college hockey’s top individual honor.

RELATED: Predators Pick Jimmy Vesey a Finalist for the Hobey Baker

The Predators made a run to sign Vesey, but he wanted to get his degree. (The decision even had then-Boston Bruins and now Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli chirp Poile about Vesey going back to school.)

He also played for Team USA at the 2015 IIHF World Hockey Championships and helped them get a bronze medal. Vesey made a good account for himself and didn’t look out-of-place among some of the best players in the world.

Vesey already has eight goals and eight assists for 16 points to wrap up the first semester, which isn’t high on the overall leaders list. However, the Crimson have played only 12 games because Ivy League teams start their respective seasons later than other teams in NCAA Division I.

Center of Speculation

While Vesey is enjoying his last season in college, he’ll have a tough decision to make once Harvard’s season ends. Vesey has two choices as he can sign with the Predators or he can become a free agent because his draft rights will expire after four years.

The most recent cases of a draftee letting their respective rights expire are Kevin Hayes and Mike Reilly. Hayes has thrived with the New York Rangers after shunning the Chicago Blackhawks, while Reilly was just recently called up by the Minnesota Wild after letting his rights from the Columbus Blue Jackets expire.

The speculation about Vesey’s post-collegiate future went into overdrive because Vesey’s father, Jimmy, Sr., is an amateur scout with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs also drafted Vesey’s younger brother, Nolan, in the sixth round of the 2014 NHL Draft. Could Toronto be laying the groundwork to make a run at completing the Vesey family trifecta?

However, it’s not all lost for Nashville as Vesey has stated several times that he is loyal to the team. He was in attendance for Nashville’s 3-2 win over the Bruins on Dec. 7 in Boston. Vesey told The Tennessean’s Predators beat writer Adam Vingan about all of the rumors.

“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.”

The Verdict

There’s still hope that Jimmy Vesey will sign after he come to the Music City once he complete his classes for his government degree. He and his good buddy Matt Grzelcyk are making teams wait. (Grzelcyk plays for Boston University and is a prospect for the Pittsburgh Penguins.)

RELATED: Jimmy Vesey Committed to Predators After College

A player of Vesey’s caliber could be a great trade deadline-style move for the team without having to give up anything in return. Poile has said that Vesey is a pro-ready on several occasions, and could skip to the main roster from college like Colin Wilson and Craig Smith did.

Whatever the case, the waiting will be the hardest part for the Nashville Predators.

Dan Mount is a Nashville Predators staff writer for The Hockey Writers. You can follow him on Twitter, @DanMountSports.