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Top 25 Under 25: Joe Veleno debuts at 10

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Joe Veleno could be one of the biggest steals of the 2018 NHL Draft

2018 NHL Draft - Portraits Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The 2018 Draft class put the Red Wings into the conversation for top-10 farm systems in the NHL. Headlining the offseason is easily Filip Zadina, a kid expected to see time in the NHL this fall. But a player that turned a lot of heads was Joe Veleno, a skilled pivot projected to be gone in the early-round. The Red Wings scooped him up at 30th overall.

The Vitals

Position: Center
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 192 lbs
Shoots: Left
Born: 1/13/00
Birthplace: Montreal, QC, Canada
Drafted: 2018, 1st round, 30th overall
Current Team: Drummondville Voltigeurs
2017-2018 statline: 54 GP, 22 goals, 57 assists

Joe Veleno is the definition of a “steal” for the Red Wings organization. 30 teams passed on Veleno in the 1st round, and there was perhaps no better choice for Detroit.

In a nutshell, Joey-Vee (nickname appointed by yours truly) is a model two-way centerman. He plays a very hard-nosed yet skilled type of game. Veleno always had a high bar to clear, as he was granted “Exceptional Player Status,” which brought him into the CHL at 15 years old — a status given to some of the NHL’s best: Connor McDavid, John Tavares, etc.

What really defines many centers of elite caliber is their ability in tight spaces. Whether it’s along the boards, in front of the net, or in the face-off dot, the centerman is often in the thick of playmaking and even defensive positions. Veleno is a quick-thinking player with soft hands. That alone makes him a threat in most situations.

The 18-year-old pivot has fantastic skating ability, which as a center, is worth its weight in gold. He found great consistency after he was moved to Drummondville — surging to 48 points in just over 30 games. When you watch his highlights, you see he has a graceful wide-stance style of skating. Veleno blends together skating, vision, and instinct to bring what some would call a seamless style of play.

Veleno’s status going into the CHL may end up helping the Red Wings. After one more season, he will be eligible to play in the AHL — which gives him the upper-hand in development. Outside of Michael Rasmussen, the Red Wings are thin down the middle on the farm, but the addition of Joe Veleno should give excite a lot of fans.

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. -Future Considerations

The sky is the limit for Joe Veleno, he could be anywhere from a utility player to a top-six forward in the NHL. Ultimately, like most top prospects, we’ll just have to wait to see what he does in the pros. Though, his final season in the QMJHL will give us a better idea of what kind of athlete he is. I see Veleno being NHL-ready in two or three years.


Poll

Do you agree with Joe Veleno at 10?

This poll is closed

  • 52%
    Yep, that’s right.
    (514 votes)
  • 2%
    No, it’s too high.
    (25 votes)
  • 44%
    No, he should be higher.
    (440 votes)
979 votes total Vote Now

WIIM Top 25 Under 25 Rankings So Far

11. Joe Hicketts, Grand Rapids, AHL
12. David Pope, Grand Rapids, AHL
13. Martin Frk, Detroit Red Wings, NHL
14. Jonatan Berggren, Skellefteå AIK, SHL
15. Givani Smith, Grand Rapids Griffins, AHL
16. Vili Saarijarvi, Grand Rapids, AHL
17. Keith Petruzelli, Quinnipiac University, NCAA
18. Dominic Turgeon, Grand Rapids, AHL
19. Gustav Lindstrom, Frolunda, SHL
20. Jared McIsaac, Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL
21. Filip Larsson, University of Denver, NCAA
22. Christoffer Ehn, Frolunda, SHL
23. Alex Regula, London Knights, OHL
24. Axel Holmstrom, Grand Rapids Griffins, AHL
25. Jack Adams, Union College, NCAA