by Ray Kuhn
There isn’t a direct correlation between a player winning the Hobey Baker award and having success in the NHL, but it is certainly a good start. At the very least it means that Jimmy Vesey has a track record of success and we should expect some level of production out of him next season.
After being drafted by the Nashville Predators in the third round of the 2012 draft Vesey chose not to sign. With four years having past he is now eligible to be a free agent, and there aren’t many times to be a free agent than after you won the award for being the best player in the NCAA.
While you can’t argue with Vesey’s success last season, 24 goals and 46 points in 33 games, there were better players in the NCAA. You could easily make the argument that he had a better junior season, 32 goals and 26 assists in 37 games, but the Hobey Baker award generally goes to an upper-classmen.
The improvements that he made throughout his four years with Harvard were visible, and his upcoming free agency will be drama filled. Whoever signs him will be getting a complete player who should have no issues adjusting to play in the NHL. Sure there will be better rookies next season, but the 6’3”, 203 pound winger, will at the very least be a solid contributor.
Four years ago Vesey clearly had potential, after all he was a third round selection, but he had some developing to do. In his four years at Harvard that is what he did. His coach, Ted Donato (also an NHL veteran), had this to say about Vesey (click here for the article):
“He’s put a lot of effort into his physical development and reshaping his body,” Donato said. “He learned to be fully committed both on and off the ice.
“It’s fun to play hockey and work on your game on the ice, but it’s a little less fun to do the work in the weight room and discipline yourself with nutrition and do everything you need to do to become an elite athlete. But not only has Jimmy done that, he seems to enjoy it and has set a tremendous example for his teammates.”
Based on what Vesey brings to the table, it is unfair to evaluate him simply based on what you see in the box score. Take it from the winger himself the strides that he made while he was at Harvard:
“I’m bigger and stronger and my skating has really improved,” he said. “I play with more confidence and I also think I play more of a complete game. I’m not just an offensive guy. I was on the top penalty-killing unit this year and that’s something I’m really proud of.”
It remains to be seen how much of bidding war will transpire for Vesey this summer, but is clear that he will have multiple suitors.