Washington Capitals Should Pursue Harvard F Jimmy Vesey

A late developing hockey story surfaced on Monday night that the Washington Capitals should certainly have an eye on.

For quite a while, it seems as though everyone has been unsure whether Harvard University forward Jimmy Vesey would sign with the Nashville Predators, the team that drafted him in the third round of the 2012 NHL draft.

It appears, at least for the time being, that Vesey will opt to go the route of free agency rather than sign with the Predators.

Vesey will immediately become one of the top college free agents, except in his case it works a little differently than it did for somebody like G Adam Carlson, who signed with the Washington Capitals yesterday.

Article 8.6 (iii) in the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement gives a much clearer explanation than I can personally give.

“If a Player drafted at age 18 or 19, who had received a Bona Fide Offer in accordance with Section 8.6(a)(ii) above, becomes a bona fide college student prior to the second June 1 following his selection in the Entry Draft and remains a bona fide college student through the graduation of his college class, his drafting Club shall retain the exclusive rights of negotiation for his services through and including the August 15 following the graduation of his college class.”

Basically, the difference is that Vesey doesn’t immediately become a free agent. He will graduate from Harvard, and hit free agency on August 15th, leaving him plenty of time to ponder his decision and explore his options.

If the Capitals wish to go after Vesey – which each and every team in the NHL should do – the later date that he hits free agency could favor some of the league’s top teams.

Players such as Drake Caggiula, a forward out of the University of North Dakota, is another top NCAA free agent. The difference with him is that he is an undrafted player, meaning he can sign with any team as soon as his season ends and jump right into the NHL.

This type of situation favors some of the league’s younger teams such as the Buffalo Sabres, who may not make the playoffs, but can give immediate and significant playing time to their new signings. Vesey won’t be able to play until next season if he definitively decides to hit free agency.

After scoring 58 points in his junior year at Harvard – and also turning down an offer to go pro with the Preds – he posted 46 points this year. He is a Hobey Baker finalist as well.

Despite the downturn in numbers, there is no doubting Vesey’s talent. It also says something that he decided to go back to school and actively wanted to graduate as well as remain with his tight-knit group of teammates as he highlighted in his recent Player’s Tribune article.

This offseason is going to be an interesting one for the Washington Capitals. They have a few players to re-sign, and they now likely have the cap space to do it after moving Brooks Laich and his contract.

One of those players is Marcus Johansson. He caught fire midway through the year, but to say his play has tailed off as the season wore on would be a huge understatement. Depending on how much money he asks for as a restricted free agent, Vesey could be a more than effective body to replace Johansson if it comes to that, though it would leave a hole at the third line center position again.

Signing Vesey would also add to a relatively thin crop of high-end forward prospects in the Washington Capitals’ system.

Jimmy Vesey is a very intriguing player, and the Washington Capitals should absolutely look into signing him no matter how this offseason goes.