The primary and solely participant to get distinctive standing within the QMJHL, Veleno has ridden a curler coaster in his teen years. Now the Detroit Purple Wings first-rounder is bringing his knowledge to Canada’s dressing room.Joe Veleno|Kevin Mild/Getty ImagesPLYMOUTH, MICH. – It’s solely been one sport, however Canada appears to have discovered a potent combo up entrance on the World Junior Summer season Showcase. Chicago Blackhawks lottery choose Kirby Dach, 2020 draft star Alexis Lafreniere and Detroit Purple Wings prospect Joe Veleno mixed for six factors in Canada’s Four-1 win over Staff USA on the World Junior Summer season Showcase and proved to be a power throughout a fast-paced sport.
It’s an attention-grabbing line and it solely got here collectively as a result of the trio had labored so properly on the ability play collectively early within the sport; initially Los Angeles Kings prospect Akil Thomas had been centering Lafreniere and Veleno.
Whereas Lafreniere would be the discuss of the draft this upcoming season and Dach wanting like he might push for an NHL job in Chicago straight from the 2019 draft, it’s value noting how necessary Veleno will likely be to this Canadian squad as a returning participant from final 12 months’s world junior squad (Lafreniere was there too, albeit in a depth function).
As a result of Veleno was granted distinctive standing to hitch the Quebec League as a 15-year-old, he’s eligible to play within the American League this season regardless of being solely 19. That’s nice for the Grand Rapids Griffins, but in addition for Staff Canada, which can get a uncommon participant with expertise towards males on its roster. Up to now, it’s been an attention-grabbing journey for Veleno, due to that distinctive standing designation.
“It was a curler coaster,” he mentioned. “It’s not straightforward coming into that league as a 15-year-old enjoying towards 19- and 20-year-olds. As soon as I bought some years below my belt, I grew to become the older man and issues got here pure. Getting that have helped my confidence.”
Veleno went first total to the Saint John Sea Canines in 2015 and had an honest rookie season as an underager whereas enjoying with future NHLers equivalent to Thomas Chabot and Mathieu Joseph. His second 12 months was truncated by harm, however he nonetheless put up practically some extent per sport. In his draft 12 months, he was named captain of the Sea Canines however was ultimately traded to Drummondville as Saint John started a rebuild. Scouts thought he put an excessive amount of strain on himself in that final stint with Saint John and that Veleno seemed extra comfy with the Voltigeurs, however he nonetheless slid to the tip of the primary spherical of the NHL draft in the summertime of 2018, going 30th total to the Purple Wings, who had already taken Filip Zadina sixth total.
This previous season, Veleno was a monster with 104 factors for Drummondville, making him one of many high scorers within the QMJHL. That was one level lower than Lafreniere, although the child is completely satisfied to take recommendation from his older Staff Canada liney.
“I’ve talked to him loads and we’ve tried to assist one another as two guys from the Quebec League,” Lafreniere mentioned. “He’s so good and off the ice he’s an actual good man.”
Veleno is very happy to go on any of his accrued knowledge to anyone on Staff Canada and that’s an asset for this system’s teaching workers.
“You’ve bought some younger guys and he’s gone by way of it,” mentioned Dale Hunter. “He can relate to the nervousness; it’s powerful. Your abdomen has butterflies and the first-time guys are attempting to impress. Him speaking to the younger guys helps loads.”
For Veleno himself, expertise will likely be key to taking his sport to the following degree at his second world juniors. “When you’re older on this match, it turns into loads simpler,” he mentioned.
“Final 12 months was my first and enjoying towards older guys is rarely straightforward. Having that have below my belt makes me really feel much more assured with and with out the puck. It simply makes issues come pure.”
Together with his pace and arms, Veleno will likely be a key contributor when Canada heads to the Czech Republic, little question on a mission to erase final 12 months’s humbling early quarterfinal exit. Given all of the ups and downs Veleno has already seen in his younger profession, it’s honest to say he’ll be ready for something. However he wouldn’t commerce his distinctive standing path, both.
“It made me much more mature as a participant and an individual,” he mentioned. “Wanting again on it, I actually needed to be the primary one within the QMJHL. I discovered loads from that and it made me a greater particular person.”
Tags: ahl, detroit crimson wings, worldwide hockey, prospectsConnect: In regards to the AuthorRyan KennedyRyan Kennedy is the affiliate senior author and draft/prospect professional at The Hockey Information. He has been with the publication since 2005 and in that span, Don Cherry, Lil Jon and The Rock have all known as his home. He lives in Toronto along with his spouse and youngsters the place he listens to loud music and collects NCAA pennants.