As soon as the final buzzer sounded on Harvard's season with a 4-1 regional semifinal loss to Boston College, speculation and attention immediately turned to the future of Harvard senior and Hobey Baker finalist Jimmy Vesey.
Nashville Predators, you are on the clock. #VeseyWatch— Chris Peters (@chrismpeters) March 26, 2016
For those unfamiliar with the situation: Vesey, one of the top players in college hockey, and rated as the sixth-best NHL prospect in the NCAA by us this season, was selected by the Nashville Predators in the third round of the 2012 NHL Draft.
With Vesey's college career ending this year, he is set to become an NHL free agent if the Predators are unable to sign him by August 15th of this year.
The Predators made a hard push to sign Vesey after last season and get him into their NHL line-up so they did not risk losing his rights, but Vesey opted to return to Harvard for his senior season, causing some to speculate that Vesey may opt to wait until Nashville's rights to him expire, allowing him to sign with a team of his choosing.
Adding an extra twist to the plot, Vesey's father Jim was hired as a scout by the Toronto Maple Leafs, leading to further speculation that the younger Vesey will land in Toronto at the end of the summer.
Working in Nashville's favor is that the Predators can offer Vesey the opportunity to sign with the team immediately rather than waiting until next season. Vesey could join the Predators immediately, which would mean he would burn the first year of his entry-level contract, making him that much closer to a big potential big payday with his second contract. The Predators are also currently in position for a playoff spot, which means Vesey could potentially participate in a Stanley Cup run if he were to sign with Nashville.
We'll likely get an answer as to his intentions quickly, because if he doesn't sign with Nashville immediately, odds are good he'll look elsewhere in free agency this summer. But regardless, this should be one of the most closely watched dramas of the college hockey signing season.