Detroit Red Wings: Prospects: Learning About Joe Veleno

GATINEAU, CANADA - DECEMBER 1: Joe Veleno #9 of the Saint John Sea Dogs prepares for a faceoff against the Gatineau Olympiques on December 1, 2017 at Robert Guertin Arena in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Francois Laplante/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
GATINEAU, CANADA - DECEMBER 1: Joe Veleno #9 of the Saint John Sea Dogs prepares for a faceoff against the Gatineau Olympiques on December 1, 2017 at Robert Guertin Arena in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Francois Laplante/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) /
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The Detroit Red Wings prospect & highly regarded center is one of few players to have been granted “Exceptional status.”  This allowed Joe Veleno to play junior level hockey at age 15 one year earlier than the mandatory 16-year-old limit.

The Detroit Red Wings 2018 draft board would have had Filip Zadina near the top.  The expectation of being able to draft him was that similar to Joe Veleno going into draft day low to none.  Detroit would end up with both.  Detroit while putting together their draft data and projections would have suspected Veleno to be selected mid first round.  Many had Veleno the young stand out projected around 15th overall.

When the Detroit Red Wings chose 30th overall, with the draft selection they acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights in the trade for Tomas Tatar, Joe Veleno was still to many surprise available.

The Detroit Red Wings we all know lacking defensive help could have chosen a defender with no questions asked with the 30th selection in the NHL draft.  Mattias Samuelsson would have been an expected choice.  Veleno falling in the draft to 30 forced the Detroit brass to pass on the big 6’4 defender in favor of an excellent all-around center Veleno.

"The scouting report for Joe Veleno from EliteProspects.com suggests he is a workhorse who is a fleet-footed skater.  Veleno is good in his own zone making him a very reliable two-way center.  He never gives up on the play and is expected to thrive and exceed expectations"

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The six foot one, 18-year-old is expected to have a bright future with the Detroit Red Wings, but it won’t be this season.  Joe Veleno should have an excellent opportunity to make the Red Wings in a year from now.  A player we should track and check in on regularly this season.

One issue I see that Veleno will need to work on if he wants to be a center in the NHL is his faceoff %.  Veleno, last year in junior, posted a mediocre 46% success rate.  To play center in Detroit that will be something Veleno will need to improve on moving forward.

Joe Veleno started last season as the captain of the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL.  After 31 games where Veleno recorded a point a game, he was traded to the Drummondville Voltigeurs.  In Drummondville, Joe upped the ante by scoring 48 points in 33 games.  Joe Veleno ended the season 10th in total scoring in the QMJHL.  His full line looked like this, 64 games 22G-57A-79 Points. Veleno would add 11 playoff points in 10 games.

To make a quick comparison to our other first-round selection that played in the same league.  Filip Zadina finished 7th in league scoring with a line that looked like this. 57 games played 44G-38A-82 points.

The Detroit Red Wings top two draft choices came from the same junior league and tallied a total of a 3 point difference on the season.  It was a good first round for Ken Holland and the Detroit Red Wings.

Next: Detroit Red Wings: Chris Osgood Waits for Call to the Hall

When a player is granted “Exceptional Status” it as you could imagine puts immediate pressure on a 15-year-old to succeed.  Your entire junior career will consist of whispers & comparisons to players like Connor McDavid who was also granted this status.  At 15 it could have been easy to crumble under pressure.  Joe Veleno some consider wasn’t deserving of exceptional status has plugged along in junior and has progressed each season positively.  A young kid who is unselfish and defensively responsible with speed and vision will be another welcoming addition to the Detroit Red Wings franchise and prospect pool.