The 2016 NHL Trade Deadline has come and gone, but David Poile’s biggest acquisition is still yet to arrive.
With the exception of a minor-league deal to acquire defenseman Corey Potter from the Arizona Coyotes before Monday’s 2 p.m. (CT) deadline, the Nashville Predators General Manager made the decision to keep things consistent for a team that’s on a nine-game point streak. Poile’s belief that an additional goal-scorer, who has already been drafted by the club, will soon be sporting the Preds logo. That was also a major factor in the calculated decision to wait for the impending roster enhancement.
“At past trading deadlines, I think we’ve been very aggressive; we’ve made lots of trades and high-end trades and traded our first picks, second picks, and sometimes, honestly, I think we’ve overshot the mark and probably hurt our chemistry,” the franchise’s lifelong GM said Tuesday. “This year, one of the main reasons I didn’t feel that kind of trade was necessary was because we have a young player at Harvard in Jimmy Vesey.”
A third-round pick of the Predators in 2012, Vesey is the player Poile has saved a spot for. Currently a standout forward in his senior season at Harvard, Vesey has 21 goals and 41 points through 28 games for the Crimson this season. When his time with Harvard concludes within the next month or so, Nashville desires to sign Vesey to an entry-level deal and begin to utilize his services right away.
“We’ve kept a spot open for him, and we’ve talked about when his season ends to bring him right onto our team put him right into our lineup,” Poile said of Vesey. “When you make a promise like that, you have to keep that promise. I didn’t want to trade away his spot. Acquiring a forward, a top-two line forward, for example, I think that would’ve probably not been fair to Jimmy Vesey, and I really feel with his potential, what he can do, that he was probably as good as any player I could’ve acquired at the trading deadline.
“Whenever Harvard’s season is over, we look forward to signing Jimmy and bringing him on our team, and I think that’s going to be a great boost for our team at the perfect time of the season.”
Vesey has made stops in Nashville before, most recently this past summer, when he attended Predators Development Camp, and then stuck around for an extra week to work with Predators Strength and Conditioning Coach David Good. Poile says the experience Vesey has now gained, both in Tennessee and in the collegiate ranks, has only better prepared him for what awaits with the Preds.
“He’s invested a lot into improving his game, and we’ve invested a lot into helping him develop,” Poile said. “The most important thing is we need what he can do. We need his position, what he can bring on the ice, and we have that spot available to him.”
Vesey would be joining a team that is playing its best hockey of the season at the right time. The Predators have won four straight heading into Tuesday’s game against Dallas and have recorded points in nine consecutive outings, going 6-0-3 during that span. A trade for top-line center Ryan Johansen in January has helped, as well as consistent efforts from the goal crease out for the Preds.
“The good news is it’s starting to feel a lot like last year when we were a top team throughout the season, but we’re actually a better team because we’re a year older, a year wiser and we’ve had that playoff experience against Chicago,” Poile said. “Maybe the fact that we’re playing our best hockey into February, March and hopefully into April will bode well in our chances to not only make the playoffs, but to win rounds in the playoffs this year.”
While other teams have already seen their chances to bulk up their rosters in time for the postseason pass along, the Preds may not be done just yet. When that time comes, they hope to have one more piece in their lineup that could help them reach the next level - not just now, but for years to come.
“I think every player wants to know if there’s an opportunity, if there’s a fit,” Poile said. “We have the opportunity, we have the fit and Vesey is the type of player that we’re looking for. That’s the reason why we didn’t make any deals at the trading deadline for a forward because we know we have him coming in.”