Jimmy Vesey is a Boston kind of guy. He was born and raised in the Hub of Hockey. He played his college hockey for the Crimson. His dad, Jim, skated in four of his 15 career NHL games for the Bruins, the team young Jimmy grew up rooting for.
Given a chance, Vesey would probably park his car in Harvard yard.
So it's been widely assumed that the high-scoring 2012 Nashville draft pick who confirmed on Monday that he would pursue free agency rather than sign with the Predators, has Boston on his list of preferred destinations when he becomes eligible to sign with another team on Aug. 15.
Now, though, it appears that he has his heart set on wearing black and gold.
Writing in the Boston Herald, Stephen Harris offered this: "According to an extremely well-placed source within the Boston-area college hockey community, the forward will ... sign with the B’s."
Vesey would be a huge get for the Bruins, a team that's in dire need of a makeover up front. He's a 6' 3", 205-pound center/left wing who boasts blazing speed and a deft touch around the net. Over the past two seasons with the Crimson, he tallied 56 goals and 104 points in 70 games. With Loui Eriksson likely leaving Boston as a free agent this summer, Vesey could slide directly into the Bruins' top-six.
One more reason he might want to sign with the B's: His good friend Matt Grzelcyk is expected to ink a deal with Boston shortly. The Bruins are at 49 contracts after signing college prospects Rob O'Gara and Sean Kuraly on Tuesday, leaving them with one open slot. It's possible that they could use that one to nab free agent forward Brandon Tanev and then wait until after they clear the decks on July 1 to finalize a deal with Grzelcyk. But with a chance to feather the nest as comfortably as possible for Vesey, they may just go ahead and get something done with Grzelcyk.
It's worth remembering that Vesey could still change his mind and sign with the Preds before Aug. 15. He could also be swayed to join the Maple Leafs, the team that employs his dad and drafted his younger brother, Brandon. Or he might find a better fit among one of the league's other 27 teams. But for now anyway, it seems Bruins fans can circle the date and wait anxiously for the arrival of one of their own.
If the Preds harbored any hope of convincing Vesey to change his mind before Aug. 15, they can now let it go.
Two days after being roasted by Nashville GM David Poile, Vesey's camp fired back in a written statement on Wednesday, refuting claims that they'd left the Preds high and dry.
"Nashville now claims that they were without knowledge of [the possibility that Vesey would pursue free agency] and that this lack of knowledge precluded the hockey club from acquiring a player at the trade deadline. 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."
The statement, first obtained by ESPN, also mocked the team's assertion that the decision would cost Vesey financially.
"Whether Jimmy will lose money is speculative at best. However, it is believed that such a loss, if any, can be more than made up as a result of on ice and off ice opportunities in the city and organization of his choice."
A veiled shot at small-town Nashville? Ouch.
With two versions of how things unfolded, there's no telling where the truth lies. This much is clear, though: Whether or not promises were made, at no point did Poile or the Predators have Vesey's name on a contract. And he should have acted accordingly.
While it was no doubt disappointing to lose a prospect of that caliber, there was never any reason to shift blame on the player. Nor was there any upside to that approach.
Any mistakes made were made by the Preds.
If anything is clear it's that this relationship is fractured beyond repair. Vesey will move on to the team of his choice. And the Preds will have to learn to get along without him...preferably without saying another word on the subject.