Note: Revision to Jim Vesey Sr’s NHL statistics that incorrectly reported his career point totals with the Boston Bruins. 

Growing up in a great hockey city is a blessing. It’s something that people south of the Mason-Dixon can’t begin to comprehend. Instead of college basketball and March Madness, many in a city like Boston are glued to the Frozen Four.

Young hockey players spend countless hours in the rink, dreaming of scoring the game winner in a Beanpot final. If it wasn’t the Beanpot, it was the Stanley Cup Finals. If you were in Boston, these dreams likely included playing for the Boston Bruins.

So why on earth would I suggest that a local, talented prospect like Jimmy Vesey should reject a contract offer from his hometown team?

The younger Jimmy Vesey comes from a family that knows its hockey. His father, Jim, grew up right in the heart of Boston: Charlestown. Jim was also a very talented forward. In 1988, he was a senior at my alma mater Merrimack College. He was one of the best players on the roster that year, totaling an impressive 95 points. Merrimack would go onto qualify for the D1 NCAA tournament as an independent.

After Merrimack, Jim Vesey was drafted in the eighth round of the 1984 NHL draft by the St. Louis Blues. He would bounce back and forth between the IHL and the NHL before playing two seasons in the Bruins system. In 1991-92, Jim managed to total 77 points for the AHL Bruins.

Jim had the chance to play for the team he idolized growing up. It’s something that many dream of, and never have the opportunity.

Jim would leave hockey and start to raise his family. His son was born on May 26, 1993. Jimmy would go on to become a very strong hockey player. As college approached, many wondered if he would potentially follow in his father’s footsteps; attend Merrimack.

In his final season before becoming a collegiate hockey player, Vesey scored 91 points for the South Shore Kings. He would go on to choose an excellent local college, and perhaps the best institution in the world: Harvard University. In his final two seasons as a member of the Crimson, Vesey scored a total of 104 points in only 70 games.

Vesey’s excellent play earned him the ultimate honor in all of college hockey: The Hobey Baker award. He was also awarded the Walter Brown award twice, establishing himself as the best college player in New England two straight seasons. To top it off, he was named ECAC Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons.

The Nashville Predators drafted Jimmy back in 2012 as a third round pick. In March, Vesey informed the Predators that he will be testing free agency rather than signing with Nashville. It was considered to be a stunning disappointment for their franchise, and they considered Jimmy as a lock for next year’s team.

Immediately thereafter, there was a rush of excitement for Bruins fans who so badly need an infusion of new talent on the roster. Vesey is a 6-foot 1-inch 194 pound forward that could provide some of the production that’s exactly what the B’s need. He is a big winger that has great vision of the ice. He excels at passing the puck and plays an excellent two-way game. While he is considered to be a capable two-way forward, some scouts believe that his play needs improvement in the defensive end of the ice.

With Claude Julien still behind the bench of the Boston Bruins, it’s likely that Vesey could transform into a stronger player in the defensive end of the ice. If anything, Vesey would still be an upgrade from any other option the Bruins would be able to sign to a deal.

But with the Bruins recent struggles and the ongoing identity struggle of the franchise, is Boston the best option for the local forward?

In my personal opinion, the answer is no. Living and playing in your home town is both a blessing and distraction. Family and friends would likely be at every single game. While it’s great to see Dad in the stands every night, what happens if the Bruins continue to struggle? It seems like they might not be in serious playoff contention for several years.

The Bruins have also recently had a rough history handling their younger talent. 22 year old winger Alexander Khokhlachev recorded 68 points in 60 games for the Providence Bruins this past season, but wasn’t awarded with significant playing time with the NHL Bruins. During the end of the season he began to express his aggravation with his status, he declared that the organization needs to figure out what they want to do with him heading forward.

Two weeks ago, news broke that Khokhlachev would be leaving the franchise for the KHL, signing with SKA St. Petersburg. His new deal will not be official until June 30th when his current Bruins contract expires. Despite his production, he was only called up to Boston for a total of nine games in three seasons.

Other recent players have thought of signing in Boston also, ultimately deciding to head elsewhere. Kevin Hayes decided to head to New York City and play for the Rangers when he left Boston College. According to reliable sources, his father was relieved. It was best for both the family and Kevin. Kevin’s father was a Charlestown native as well before moving to Dorchester to raise his family. Both Kevin and Jimmy played their hockey at Nobles, then BC.

Even with Vesey’s local connections, joining the Bruins at this time is a gamble, even more now since the Bruins have not the playoffs in two straight seasons.

With that being said, Jimmy Vesey in Boston would be an incredible story. His family originates in Charlestown, he grew up in Reading, and attended two local schools: Dexter and Harvard. He could continue the proud tradition of local hockey that his family has built in this area.

But the spotlight will shine bright on Jimmy Vesey. If he doesn’t perform at home, the pressure will be on.

What’s best for the Bruins, might not be in be the best for Jimmy Vesey. There are several other teams that are rumored to be courting the talented forward. One of them is the Toronto Maple Leafs. Auston Matthews will almost certainly be the Leafs top pick, and Vesey would have the opportunity to join a franchise that is rebuilding for the future. There would be less pressure, and it could very well lead to better production. He could fly under the radar.

At this point it’s difficult to judge what Vesey and his family will decide upon. Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe has reported that they have no favored location for him to land at this time.

His father also confirmed that his son has not decided on his future team.

Bruins fans will be disheartened to learn that Vesey’s father would prefer him signing outside of Boston. Vesey Sr cited the increased pressure for a local, hometown kid.

Vesey’s Dad also serves as a scout for the Toronto Maple Leafs. There was immediate speculation that his father may try to influence him to sign with Toronto. Dad shot down that idea.

Judging from the reports, it’s unlikely that the Harvard hero becomes a Boston Bruin. With his father’s hockey knowledge and connections to the NHL, he is not blind to the scrutiny that might come later down the road.

Don’t count the Bruins out until the Vesey Sweepstakes has ended. His father seems to be providing vital insight into the process, but is leaving the final decision up to him.

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