UPDATED: March 30, 2016, at 4:00 p.m.
Two days after ex-Harvard men’s hockey captain Jimmy Vesey opted not to sign immediately with the Nashville Predators, Vesey’s representatives broke their silence in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon.
“After being fully advised of his options and upon the recommendation of his advisors and counselors, Jimmy Vesey shall become an Unrestricted Free Agent on August 15, 2016,” began the statement, which proceeded to challenge the account of events provided by the Nashville Predators’ front office.
In an interview Tuesday afternoon on SportsNet’s Hockey Central program, Nashville Assistant General Manager Paul Fenton said that Vesey told him prior to the Feb. 29 NHL trade deadline that he would be signing with the Predators. Fenton said he received Vesey’s word outside the Harvard locker room following the Beanpot consolation game at TD Garden on Feb. 8 after having asked the forward three times if he would be signing with the club.
“I said I realized he was in a tough position here, that I was asking him this, but we needed to know from a lineup standpoint and our trade deadline plans as to what he was going to do,” Fenton said.
Peter Fish and Peter Donatelli of Global Hockey Consultants, Vesey’s agency, pushed back on this claim in their statement Wednesday afternoon.
“Nashville now claims and it has been widely reported that they were without knowledge of this possibility and that this lack of knowledge precluded the hockey club from acquiring a player at the Trade Deadline,” the statement reads. “This contention is not accurate. The Nashville Predators were informed prior to the Trade Deadline that they should conduct their business as they saw fit and that the potential of signing or not signing Jimmy Vesey should not be a factor in their decision.”
For the second consecutive year, Vesey had the option to sign and play with the Predators after the Crimson’s season came to an end in the NCAA tournament. Nashville drafted Vesey in the third round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, 66th overall.
A year ago, however, Vesey—the 12th leading point-getter in Harvard history—elected to return to school for his senior season, and at least for now, he has declined the opportunity to join the team that drafted him once again.
Vesey’s decision came as a surprise not only to Fenton, but to Nashville General Manager David Poile, who said Monday that he had not been told Vesey was considering testing free agency until last week when the organization received a call from Vesey’s camp.
“Up until a week ago Wednesday, I thought for sure we were going to sign Jimmy Vesey,” Poile said. “So this is a shocker.”
Per the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement, Nashville maintains “the exclusive rights of negotiation” for Vesey’s services through Aug. 15.
Poile has said that he will continue trying to “persuade him to change his mind” in hopes of still getting a deal done, but if Vesey remains unsigned after Aug. 15, the 6’3” winger can then begin negotiating with the other 29 teams in the league.
Previous reports have mentioned the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs among the teams aiming to acquire Vesey’s services.
One report early Wednesday morning from the Boston Herald linked Vesey, a Charlestown native, to his hometown Bruins, per “an extremely well-placed source within the Boston-area college hockey community.”
Meanwhile, Vesey has family ties within the Maple Leafs organization, as his father, Jim, is a team scout, and his younger brother, Nolan, was drafted by the team in 2014.
Nonetheless, Vesey’s final landing spot may remain unknown for quite a while. In the meantime, however, by opting not to leave for Nashville right away, Vesey will be able to graduate from Harvard in May.
“Jimmy and his family are very proud and pleased that this will indeed happen,” his statement reads. “The Harvard community and alumni have rallied around him. Jimmy is very appreciative of this support and the fact that he will now be able to graduate.”
—Check TheCrimson.com for updates.—Staff writer Jake Meagher can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MeagherTHC.
Men's Hockey's Vesey To Return for Senior Season
Harvard Hockey's Vesey Elects Not To Sign Immediately With Predators
Wednesday's Statement Issued by Jimmy Vesey's CampIn response to their client, Jimmy Vesey, electing to test NHL free agency rather than sign immediately with the Nashville Predators, Peter Fish and Peter Donatelli of Global Hockey Consultants, Vesey’s agency, issued this statement Wednesday afternoon.
Vesey Welcomed Into Harvard's Club of Hobey Baker Winners
Nashville Predators Trade Jimmy Vesey's Rights to Buffalo Sabres