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Predators waiting on Vesey's decision

Nashville believes top prospect could have impact on lineup

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators are hoping to make an addition to their roster in the coming days to bolster their forward depth in a push for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Forward Jimmy Vesey was drafted by the Predators in the third round (No. 66) of the 2012 NHL Draft. He spent the past four years playing at Harvard University. But after Harvard's 4-1 loss to Boston College in the NCAA Tournament Northeast Regional semifinals on Friday, Vesey's college career ended and the clock started on his professional career.

Vesey, 22, can sign an entry-level contract with the Predators and join them immediately. But if he doesn't sign by Aug. 15 he would become an unrestricted free agent. The Predators are hopeful he will join them soon.

This season he had 24 goals and 22 assists in 33 games and is a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, given to the best NCAA men's hockey player. Last season he led all NCAA players with 32 goals and was the runner-up for the award.

"I know that there's been a lot of conversations," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "Right now we deal with this on a daily basis. We're hopeful that [Vesey] comes to us and we'll be excited to have him. He's a really good prospect. Now that his season is over he's going to have to make those decisions. We would be excited if he signed a contract to come play for us."

The Predators have remained in contact with Vesey and have watched him closely. Vesey told The Tennessean in December that he has a good relationship with the Predators.

"Development coach Scott Nichol and the Nashville scouts have been at my games and getting my game tapes and sending me feedback," Vesey said. "I still have a great relationship with them."

The Predators believe Vesey could be another impact forward to go alongside Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg and James Neal heading into the playoffs.

After the Predators acquired Johansen from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Jan. 6, they did not make any additional moves prior to the NHL Trade Deadline Feb. 29. General manager David Poile said he was saving a spot for Vesey.

The decision now rests with Vesey. If he wants to come to Nashville and play this season, he can sign an entry-level contract. If he decides not to sign with Nashville, he will be an attractive player on the open market.

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