NCAA star Vesey addresses Leafs rumors, says he has ‘great relationship’ with Preds

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There’s no question the Nashville Predators are high on Harvard sniper Jimmy Vesey, whom they took 66th overall at the 2012 draft.

And — at least publicly — Vesey says he’s high on the Predators too.

“I still have a great relationship with the team,” Vesey explained, per The Tennessean. “Development coach Scott Nichol and the Nashville scouts have been at my games and getting my game tapes and sending me feedback.

“I still have a great relationship with them.”

Vesey, who led the NCAA with 32 goals last year, was asked about his allegiance to Nashville largely because his father, Jim Sr., works as an amateur scout for the Maple Leafs.

The Leafs also drafted the youngest Vesey — Nolan, currently in his sophomore campaign at the University of Maine — in the sixth round of the ’14 draft.

(TSN’s Bob McKenzie wrote at length about the Vesey-Toronto connection, which includes an anecdote about team president Brendan Shanahan.)

The Preds, meanwhile, have steadfastly maintained there’s a NHL spot ready for Vesey whenever he’s done at Harvard and ready to sign an entry-level contract.

GM David Poile even went to far as to say the club would’ve put Vesey in the lineup in last year’s playoffs had he made the decision to leave school.

When the 22-year-old opted to return for his senior season, Poile fully supported the move. He said the club spoke repeatedly to Vesey’s family about the decision, adding “we would never tell a player to leave school.”

Looking ahead, one date looms large for Nashville and Vesey: Aug. 15, 2016.

If he doesn’t sign a contract by then, Vesey becomes an unrestricted free agent and can choose whatever team he wants.