The Detroit Red Wings finally get a deal done with Joe Veleno

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Red Wings rounded out their incredibly busy off-season by re-signing forward Joe Veleno. It’s a one-year deal worth $825,000.

Veleno, 23, had been a pending restricted free agent and became the last order of business that needed to be taken care of for Steve Yzerman and the Detroit Red Wings ahead of training camp. The Montreal native is coming off a so-so second full season with Detroit.

He totaled nine goals and 20 points last year and has amassed 18 goals and 36 points over the first 152 games since being drafted 30th overall in 2018. During his youth, Veleno was granted exceptional status, allowing him to begin his junior hockey career at the age of 15, a year sooner than everyone else. Veleno had been the fifth player ever to be granted exceptional status; the other four prior were John Tavares, Connor McDavid, Aaron Ekblad, and Sean Day.

The Detroit Red Wings extend forward Joe Veleno.

The speedy center is the 23rd man on the Detroit Red Wings roster and is expected to settle in as the team’s fourth-line center. Veleno is entering his third full season with the Red Wings, and with an abundance of youth chomping at the bit, if Veleno fails to impress his head coach and general manager, Veleno may find himself elsewhere next season.

We’ve finally reached the point of Detroit’s rebuild where players, regardless of age, will be pushed by the upcoming youth movement. With Veleno re-signed and the influx of players added this summer, it all but cements the fate of a player like Marco Kasper, Detroit’s top forward prospect in Grand Rapids, at least to begin the year. In addition to Kasper, the Detroit Red Wings have a few other top prospects closing in on a regular job in Detroit. Elmer Soderblom had a cup of coffee with the Red Wings last season and was effective at times; he and Carter Mazur will be pushing for a roster spot with the Red Wings as the year grows old, furthermore putting more emphasis on a player like Veleno perform. It sure feels like 2023-24 will be a make-or-break season for the young forward.

Veleno has the build to play a more physical brand of hockey but tends to play below his weight class. He stands 6-foot-1 and over 200 pounds. He hasn’t been able to finish on a consistent basis to warrant a spot in Detroit’s group of top-nine forwards, and if he’s going to stick around for the long haul. Veleno also went pointless for a 20-game stretch this past season from mid-February to the end of March. He also had a lengthy 25-consecutive-game streak without a goal.

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This off-season, Detroit made a blockbuster deal to land Alex DeBrincat, plus signed J.T. Compher, Daniel Sprong, Klim Kostin, and Christian Fischer. That group essentially replaces Tyler Bertuzzi, Filip Zadina, Pius Suter, Oskar Sundqvist, and Alex Chiasson from a year ago.