3 Detroit Red Wings that deserve more ice time now for next season

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Joe Veleno, Detroit Red Wings, Red Wings
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Red Wings need to give Joe Veleno a closer look down the stretch.

Similar to Zadina, the Detroit Red Wings selected Joe Veleno in the first round (30th overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Level Draft.

Veleno, 23, is a native of Montreal and was granted exceptional status to begin his junior career. If you are unfamiliar, exceptional status allows a player to play major junior hockey at the age of 15, a year earlier than everyone else. At 15, Veleno was selected first overall by the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL. Others granted exceptional status over the years are Connor McDavid, Aaron Ekblad, John Tavares, Sean Day, Shane Wright, and most recently, Michael Misa.

Although the Detroit Red Wings expected more offensive production from the first-round pick, Veleno is still a feasible piece for the Red Wings, but I can only assume his offensive game hadn’t progressed the way they had hoped when they drafted him in 2018. Like Zadina, general manager Steve Yzerman and head coach Derek Lalonde need to see what they’ve got in Veleno. The pending restricted free agent has primarily skated as a bottom-six center, and that just might be where he belongs as his career continues to progress.

This past Saturday in Philadelphia, Lalonde moved Veleno from the third-line center spot and up to the left wing on Detroit’s top line alongside Lucas Raymond and captain Dylan Larkin. Lalonde is undoubtedly looking to see what Veleno can provide the organization while playing with more skilled players. Veleno skated well over 16 minutes in that game, a mere four minutes more than his usual total. This is something the Red Wings need to continue to do for the remainder of the season.

Through 71 games this year, the speedy Veleno has recorded seven goals and 16 points but is in the midst of a lengthy pointless drought that has reached 19 games. Veleno is a fabulous skater but has struggled in the faceoff circle all season long, winning just 42.1% of his draws.