The indecisiveness of children has been well documented. Let's face it, the decision-making skills of a child arenít really something anyone should be banking on. This isn't to say that Jimmy Vesey is a child or that his decision to spurn the Predators and become a free agent was a childish one. But from what I'm reading about the situation, it sure seems like some mutiny was afoot.
If you're unfamiliar with Vesey, who just finished up his career at Harvard University last week, here is a good way to catch up. Long story short, the Predators selected Vesey with the 66th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft. One of the top players in the NCAA for these last two seasons, heís now finished his career at Harvard with 80 goals and 144 points over 128 games. The Predators were under the impression that Vesey would sign his entry-level contract following the end of this season and help Nashville in its quest for the Stanley Cup. Instead, Vesey has declared heíll test free agency.
Vesey is just a kid, so we shouldn't really judge him for choosing to test the waters, right? Of course. But there's also the shady side of the story Ė the side where we find out that the Maple Leafs hired Vesey's father, Jim, as an amateur scout, most likely in hopes of luring his son to Toronto. Now there are reports coming out that his hometown Bruins are the reason Vesey went the route of free agency. When you're choosing between a franchise preparing for a playoff push and two prestigious teams like the Maple Leafs and Bruins, things can be tough (especially if you're 22 years old).
I don't think we should judge Vesey for going down this path -- hell, we've seen plenty of college kids do the exact same thing to respected teams and GMs. It's nothing personal, just good business. We should also temper our expectations of what Vesey is capable of at this point in his career. He hasn't even tasted NHL ice before and people are deeming him a difference maker. Sure, if he goes to the Bruins, it would be something of a coup for GM Don Sweeney, but that won't solve the fact that Boston will most likely miss the postseason.
The best situation for Vesey is clearly Toronto, where he can start on the same plane as many of the prospects competing for a spot on the roster right now. There would be less pressure as an outsider than as someone expected to perform at a high level in front of friends and family on a nightly basis in Boston. I would wait for the dust to settle on this front before making any fantasy decisions, but if you need someone who can come in and make an immediate impact, Vesey has a very good shot at making an NHL roster out of camp this upcoming summer -- especially if the Maple Leafs can snag him.
OHL playoffs in full swing
Moving along, we've got a lot of playoff action to cover, so let's get started in the OHL, where the top teams are taking care of business. Erie's top guys (Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat) have stepped up and have the Otters in line for a first-round sweep of Saginaw. Kingston has looked even more dangerous against Oshawa, blowing the Generals out in the first two games while stealing Game 3 on the road, 5-4. All systems go so far for Michael Dal Colle and Spencer Watson, who each have nine points in three playoff games.
The two series that stand out so far are in the Western Conference. Sarnia's contingent made a handful of moves during the regular season (most notably landing Travis Konecny) in an attempt to compete now. Well, they started the series with two losses at home and have a serious hole to dig out of against Sault Ste. Marie, a team that underachieved this season, but has plenty of talent with forwards Zachary Senyshyn and Blake Speers as well as defenseman Gustav Bouramman. Surprisingly enough, the problem isn't Pavel Zacha, who has seven points in the series (though he continues to take penalties). Konecny may have one foot out the door as he eyes joining the Flyers, but he doesn't seem like that type of kid. We'll have to wait and see if Sarnia can find its footing and advance.
In what I thought would be a more competitive series, Kitchener is smoking the Windsor Spitfires en route to what should be an impressive series win pending an absolute collapse. What I expected would be a very tight matchup has become a high-scoring slugfest with goalies on both sides struggling to contain the opposing offenses. Spitfires rookie Michael DiPietro finally got a chance in net and allowed just two goals in Game 3, but he didn't get any support in the 2-1 loss. The Rangers' top line of Ryan MacInnis, Jeremy Bracco and Brandon Robinson has been too much for Windsor, which appears destined for elimination.
A couple other thoughts
- The Blue Jackets are loading up on youth to finish out the season. They recently signed Michigan defenseman and eighth overall pick in the 2015 draft Zach Werenski to an entry-level deal, and he's expected to start his career with the AHLís Lake Erie Monsters. Werenski is the type of blueliner who should transition very easily to the pro game, so if heís not already stashed in your dynasty leagues, I'd advise you to do so now. At 19 years old, Sonny Milano is also moving up to Columbus; heís spent most of the season with Lake Erie and was just recalled Wednesday so the big club can take a look at him. He posted 12 goals and 27 points over 48 games for the Monsters this season.
- The Frozen Four is all set. Quinnipiac, Boston College, North Dakota and Denver will meet up in Tampa to compete for NCAA hockey glory a week from now. Quinnipiac and Denver are obviously not teams to take lightly, but the dream matchup for everyone (especially if you want NHL-caliber prospects) is BC vs. UND. Itís a prospect junkieís wet dream to see the Eaglesí Thatcher Demko, Colin White, Alex Tuch, Steve Santini and Ian McCoshen all taking the ice against North Dakota's Nick Schmaltz, Brock Boeser, Matej Tomek and Keaton Thompson. I'm hoping to see whether Demko can carry Boston College to a NCAA Championship or North Dakota will be too much for the young Eagles forward group.