The Detroit Red Wings appear in no rush to sign Joe Veleno

(Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Getty Images) /

As we near mid-August, the Detroit Red Wings have yet to come to terms with restricted free agent Joe Veleno; what gives?

Veleno, 23, is coming off a so-so season with the Detroit Red Wings totaling nine goals and 20 points over 81 games. He averaged below 13 minutes per night and finished the season with a minus-12 rating while primarily centering Detroit’s fourth line. This came after an ‘ok’ rookie season where he totaled eight goals and 15 points in 66 games but was a minus-14. As injuries continued to mount throughout the season, head coach Derek Lalonde experimented with Veleno in various ways, including playing on Dylan Larkin’s left wing on Detroit’s top line. However, the fleet-footed Veleno still struggled to get going offensively.

Veleno, a former first-round selection of the Red Wings, had an up-and-down second full season in Detroit. He produced just two goals over his final 30 games and struggled as the workload intensified. Similar to Veleno, Jonatan Berggren’s game saw its fair share of mountains and valleys. Berggren totaled 15 goals on the season but only four over his final 28 games.

Following the season, Derek Lalonde spoke about how the two youngsters need to focus on their growth and how they can each take the next jump in their development. Lalonde also mentioned that he had no issue with the pair struggling down the stretch, knowing an increased role for young players can be difficult.

"“Some positives for sure,” Coach Derek Lalonde said after the season. “They took some steps but they need more growth. I have no problem saying they took a dip in their game towards the end of the year. Understandable for young players. We asked a lot of those guys. Even after the deadline their role increased more and there was an obvious dip in their production, and some of their five-on-five play. I think it’s natural for young players. I think it’s valuable to get those types of minutes in games. Now it’s on them…You would hope there’s a natural growth and progression in their game and they’ll be better for it once camp starts next year.”"

The Detroit Red Wings have yet to sign restricted free agent Joe Veleno.

I am not ready to sound the alarms yet, but it does feel slightly odd that Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman has yet to get a deal done with Veleno’s camp. Yzerman had been part of Team Canada’s brain trust following the NHL regular season for the IIHF World Championship. Veleno had been a surprise addition to the club and rewarded his general manager with an inexcusable, dangerous incident. During a scrum behind the Team Canada net, Veleno was battling with Swiss captain Nino Niederreiter. As the scrum continued, Veleno eventually stomped on Niederreiter’s ankle. Veleno would be suspended for the remainder of the tournament for the incident. I don’t believe this incident has anything to do with Veleno’s contract situation, but it describes some of the growth and maturity needed heading into next season.

We also know that Yzerman drives a hard bargain when it comes to contract negotiations. The Detroit Red Wings have plenty of options for the fourth-line center position, including Robby Fabbri, Elmer Soderblom, Austin Czarnik, and even Marco Kasper if the Red Wings elect to break the rookie in slowly.

Next. Breaking down what Lucas Raymond’s contract extension may look like. dark

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That being said, I expect a deal between the Detroit Red Wings and Veleno to be completed before training camp. I expect this will be a short-term deal, one or two years, with an average annual value somewhere around $1.5 million.