Detroit Red Wings: The case against keeping Joe Veleno on the roster

Dec 3, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Joe Veleno (90) reacts during the second period against the Vegas Golden Knights at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 3, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Joe Veleno (90) reacts during the second period against the Vegas Golden Knights at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

When the Detroit Red Wings signed forward Joe Veleno to a 1-year contract for $825,000 as a restricted free agent, they inherently showed their confidence in what his role could be for the future of the club moving forward. It does not seem that long ago that Veleno was the prized young talent in Detroit’s prospect pool.

The fanbase reached maximum excitement for his potential when they received word that Detroit Red Wings General Manager (GM) Steve Yzerman would be personally picking him up and driving him directly to his NHL debut in Toronto in order for him to arrive on time.

However, since then, the fan fair has been relatively quiet for Veleno, who has spent nearly all of his ice time with the bottom six and, more often than not, centering the fourth line grinding away minutes.

The noise around Veleno has more recently been drowned out by the arrival of newer and more exciting prospects. Like a child receiving shiny new toys, Detroit Red Wings fans look forward to playing with the unknown Christmas gifts sitting under the tree tied in a velvet bow.

Is Veleno broken? Not at all, but the excitement as to what could potentially be “better” waiting to be opened and played with is something that can make you forget about the tried and true action figure that has given you admirable entertainment, given its abilities, or lack thereof.

Making the case against the Detroit Red Wings keeping Joe Veleno on the roster.

Thus far into the preseason, some of those shiny new toys have been giving some early glimpses of excellence, most notably the ninth overall pick in this past year’s draft, Nate Danielson. In his limited showing during the preseason, he has jumped off the screen with his full 200-foot game.

He has looked poised with the puck on his stick and has always made the correct decision in both zones, even if that decision is to make the easy, boring play. For a young player coming into the league looking to show what he has to offer can sometimes get caught up trying to make the flashy play that results in a turnover amongst men ten years older and more experienced than them.

Cross Hanas, Simon Edvinsson, and Marco Kasper have all shown well, but I bring Danielson up because of his unique situation. Due to agreements made between the CHL and NHL, he is unable to join Grand Rapids this season in the AHL. If he did not make the team this year, he would be forced to go back to play Junior hockey for the year.

If that were to happen, you would almost be certain to see Detroit management place Danielson in Grand Rapids the following season to get professional hockey reps before bringing him up to the show. Having to wait two years to see your Top-10 draft pick play with the big club is not ideal for the rebuild.

The plan has undoubtedly been to emerge from the rebuild with the homegrown talent that has been drafted and groomed by this regime. Although there have been significant free agents added to the roster in recent years, they are all but a stopgap to buy time for the cavalry.

The dilemma is that, ideally, you do not want the cavalry to all be forced to come at the same time. Bringing in one or two young players that Detroit expects to be part of the core for the Wings can make the transition smoother.

If Veleno does not show out this preseason, it would not be a total surprise to see the likes of Nate Danielson win that spot on the roster, creating a foundation for the likes of Mazur, Kasper, and others to join the squad next season. We have seen the coaching staff push to have Elmer Soderblom make the roster last training camp, so having an unexpected prospect be given a chance is not out of the realm of possibility.

Related Story. Detroit Red Wings: Can Nate Danielson & Marco Kasper push each other?. light

It is my belief that even with the veteran additions, Detroit will have a gauntlet of a season with other playoff hopefuls, such as Ottawa and Buffalo. Unless Joe Veleno proves to be a large part of a successful season that results in a Cinderella run, it may be best that he be pushed to the side to start the transition to the true future of the franchise.