When the Detroit Red Wings selected center Joe Veleno with the 30th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, there was plenty of excitement. The young forward was tearing it up in the QMJHL and was expected to be a force in the Red Wings’ offense when he arrived.
It took time, and there was some adversity along the way for Veleno, but the Detroit Red Wings are finally putting him to use. Unfortunately, the offense never really came around as many thought it would. I’ll be the first to admit I thought Veleno would be a stud in the top six and really find some offense.
After all, he’s only played in 136 career NHL games, and the reality of him being some big-time scoring forward seems to be fading. Reality is setting in, and the expectations of Veleno should also be changing.
At times it feels like Veleno’s going to tap into the offense, and it’s going to be the new reality for him. Other times, it feels like he’s destined to be a fourth-line center. But the more likely option is that he continues to settle into a bottom-six role as the team’s third-line center.
Detroit Red Wings forward Joe Veleno is coming to grips with reality.
The 23-year-old is realistically in his second year in the National Hockey League (NHL) after logging just five games with the Red Wings in 2020-21 when he made his debut. But the Red Wings should be happy with his play, even if the offense is not finding him on the scoresheet nightly.
In 2022-23, Veleno has played in 65 games where he has seven goals and nine assists for 16 total points, a new career high. He’s one-goal shy of his total from 2021-22, where he had eight goals and seven assists over 66 games played.
The offense may be ticking upward, but the likelihood is that Veleno will be a third-line centerman with some speed and ability to impact play on both ends of the ice. He’s been serviceable and shown some offensive upside at times. With Michael Rasmussen out, he’s anchored the third-line, but he has settled into a bottom-six role quite well.
It’s been good to see Veleno get involved with the Red Wings’ offense. He gets involved in the forecheck and puts pressure on the opposition. He’s going to backcheck and help out in the defensive zone as well. He’s got some offensive talent, and the ability to finish off scoring chances does lack at times, but that’s okay.
He’s still young and developing his footing at the NHL level. The Red Wings should be happy with what they are getting out of Veleno, even if he is not the top-six forward that it seemed like he had the potential to be coming out of the draft.