2018 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Joe Veleno Could Be The Draft’s Best Center
An ‘exceptional’ player will carry big expectations into the 2018 NHL Draft
Team: Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)
Date of Birth: January 13, 2000
Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Height: 6 feet 1 inch
Weight: 189 pounds
Joe Veleno caught the attention of the hockey world by becoming the fifth player ever granted exceptional status to play in the CHL as a 15-year-old, and the first from Quebec. Veleno starred for the Saint John Sea Dogs before a December 2017 trade sent him to Drummondville, where he scored 48 points in 33 games as a Voltigeur.
It’s unlikely Veleno will match the NHL career of fellow exceptioners like Connor McDavid or John Tavares, but he’s still a top-tier talent down the middle of the ice. Veleno thrives on the power play (leading the league with 31 power play assists) and scouts love his vision. He loves to find his teammates, too, as his 57 assists tied for third among all QMJHL skaters (he finished 10th overall in points, with 79).
Coaches don’t seem to love his hesitancy to head to the dirty areas along the boards and in front of the net. Still, top centers are hard to find, and he’s one of the best available in 2018 with all the tools NHL teams are looking for. He’s shown a winning pedigree with Saint John/Team Canada and his midseason trade yielded a much better output in Drummondville, so more eyes will be watching when and how he starts his pro career.
Future Considerations: 14
ISS Hockey: 10
McKeen’s Hockey: 9
NHL Central Scouting (NA): 13
There is so much to like about Joe Veleno. He’s a hard-nosed workhorse that makes the players around him better. The fleet-footed center is unselfish and will primarily look to make a play at top speed; however, when the chance arises to put it in the pot himself, he will capitalize. He sees the ice well and is rarely caught out of position. His defensive game is refined and he actively pursues puck control. Transitioning to offence is natural, smooth, and quick. All-in-all, a well-rounded two-way forward that skates well and can be the catalyst a team needs to turn a game in its favor. If he can find the consistency in refusing to let himself get taken out of plays, especially if he doesn’t start them, he will thrive and exceed expectations. - Curtis Joe, EliteProspects
“A jack-of-all trades player with a nice tool belt. Great edgework, acceleration, vision and puck-protection skills. The 17-year-old is already a consummate worker in the defensive end and is a very safe selection as he has a pro-level approach.” – Cam Robinson, Dobber Prospects