The Bruins have been very good lately when it comes to plucking pro prospects out of the NCAA ranks -- Torey Krug, Frank Vatrano and Noel Acciari among others -- and they might be doing it again with Harvard captain Jimmy Vesey.
The Crimson standout made waves this week when he and his camp informed the Nashville Predators he wouldn’t be signing with them during their exclusive-rights period, which they had as a result of selecting him in the third round of the 2012 NHL draft. Instead, Vesey intends to exercise his rights to become a free agent on Aug. 15, and the Boston Herald reports he’ll be signing with the Bruins later this summer according to an “extremely well-placed source within the Boston-area college hockey community.”
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Vesey -- who had 56 goals in 70 games during his Harvard career -- grew up as a B's fan in North Reading. In addition, there's a clear Harvard-Bruins connection: Crimson alum Don Sweeney is the Black and Gold's general manager, and ex-Bruin Ted Donato is currently head coach at the school. Signing Vesey could help offset the potential loss of Loui Eriksson, who is expected to leave Boston via free agency in anticipation of a big-money, long-term contract.
The Predators were banking on Vesey's services after not making a big move for another winger at the trade deadline, and Nashville GM Dave Poile lashed out at the player and his advisors.
"We told him if he was going to sign with us, we were going to keep a position available for him, and he told us that he was going to sign with us,” Poile told reporters earlier this week. “Up until a week ago Wednesday, I thought for sure we were going to sign Jimmy Vesey. So this is a shocker.
"I clearly believe that Jimmy's received bad advice and bad counsel. A player usually goes to free agency in order to increase his leverage and benefit financially, and that will not be the case here because whoever he signs with, he's going to get less of a deal on Aug. 15 than he could get from the Predators today. He's going to sign for an extra year at the same money.”
It was thought that Vesey might be headed to the Maple Leafs given that his father, former NHL player Jim Vesey, was hired by the Maple Leafs as a scout last summer, and that his brother Nolan was drafted by Toronto in 2014 as well. That still might be the case as it won’t be a certainty until the 21-year-old Vesey can explore his free agent rights in August after the exclusive draft rights have wrapped up with an exasperated group in Nashville.