Leading his team to an 8-4-0 start to their season, Joe Veleno has been outstanding so far for the Drummondville Voltigeurs QMJHL. In his first ten games of the season, he’s put up a team-leading 9 goals and 17 points, ranking him fourth in the league in total points and third in points-per-game.
After a strong training camp and preseason with the Red Wings, it was clear that Veleno was the right choice for them at #30 overall at this year’s entry draft. Many thought he’d be gone by then, so when Ken Holland and co. took the stage to announce their selection with the Vegas Golden Knights’ pick… well, it was a no-brainer. And it’s looking like it’s going to pay dividends sooner rather than later.
If the CHL and NHL didn’t have a silly rule that prevented 18-year-olds to play in the AHL, Veleno would be playing in Grand Rapids right now, adapting to the game at the pro level. Instead, he’s confined to the junior league where he’s proving that he’s too good to be playing.
#QMJHL: This is standard for C Joe Veleno (DET 1st/2018), who motors 200 feet for a shot and poke that led to this tap-in for RW Cedric Desruisseaux (2019/2000) which made it 4-0. pic.twitter.com/m06JMdwCVc
— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) September 29, 2018
Case in point: Veleno uses his strength and his speed to blow past two opposing players and put his team in a scoring position. And then there’s this goal, where he put his edgework on display and showed off his smooth hands before burying the puck short-side.
— Eliteprospects (@eliteprospects) October 15, 2018
It obviously wouldn’t be that easy for him at the professional level, but he’s going to be NHL-ready sooner than most would think and he should be developing with the pros. He’s currently on-pace for a 63 goal and 119 point season.
This season and the upcoming offseason are going to be big ones for Veleno. If he plays his cards right, I believe he actually has a good chance of making the Wings roster out of development camp in 2019-20. That’s still ways away, though. A little closer in time, look for Veleno to play a big part on Team Canada at this year’s World Junior Championship.