Believe it or not, the Red Wings decided to rob the 2018 NHL Draft. After taking Filip Zadina at 6th overall, they find center Joe Veleno falling to them at 30th overall.
Hometown: Montreal, QC
Weight: 192 lbs
What the experts say
Here is what Ken Holland had to say on NBCSN shortly after their last pick in the 1st round:
“Yeah, we were surprised. We thought Zadina was gonna go in the top 5... and obviously with Veleno, you’ve got great speed, he got into the league early, so we’re thrilled with two high-skilled forwards.”
“We wanna get some D at some point, but we just couldn’t pass these forwards up.”
“A terrific centerman, he is a great skater, with high-end top speed and extremely good mobility. He skates low with a wide stance, just like Sidney Crosby. His first steps and acceleration are breathtaking – not to mention one of his top assets. He can change pace, he can change directions, and he owns tremendous puckhandling skills. He’s able to hold onto the puck at top speed with his head up. He protects the puck very well with his body and he can get into shooting position using his strong legs. He is incredibly smart, with and without the puck, and he knows how to feed his teammates.
Flashy, with an impressive shot. In tight space, he is an elite presence. Working in one-on-one battles, his quick hands allow him to take hold of the puck more often than not. Lots of speed, lots of skill, to go with a very high compete level. He’s visible on every shift and involved in everything on the ice. Even defensively, his work rate stands out. He forechecks and backchecks very hard. With a big hit or using his quick hands, he can often steal the puck. He never misses an opportunity to throw a bodycheck, although sometimes he crosses the line with hits from behind and boarding. Veleno is even good on the penalty kill. Blocks shots, too. Opportunities to grow as a leader for this ‘exceptional’ QMJHL standout.”
Analyzing the pick
We would have loved to see the Red Wings take a pick at defense here.. Bode Wilde was a good pick, but again, they’re taking the best player available.
Veleno jumped into the junior leagues at a tender age, touted to be the next generational talent. He never lived up to that, but he never backed down in being a lightning-quick, dynamic player. It’s tough to see the Red Wings not take a defenseman in the 1st round, but they really clung to the idea of best player available.
“He was number 14 on our rankings, he had to wait a long time, but waiting for defenseman, ‘we couldn’t believe he was there’ is what the Red Wings said!”
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