Detroit Red Wings: A look at their past five first-round picks

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Detroit Red Wings- Veleno
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Joseph Veleno: (QMJHL) GP:59 | G:42 | A:62 | P:104

Joe Veleno is a part of exclusive company. Veleno became only the sixth player in Canadian junior hockey history to be granted ‘exceptional status,’ entering junior hockey early. Veleno holds the distinction with the likes of; Tavares, Ekblad, McDavid, Sean Day, and recently 16-year old Shane Wright. Not a bad list to be a part of. Veleno however, is the only player granted exceptional status by the QMJHL. With three of the six mentioned being drafted first overall in the NHL, Veleno looked to follow in their footsteps.

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Veleno had an uninspiring first half of his draft-eligible season with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL. Serving as team captain, Veleno wasn’t able to deliver. Veleno had to overcome an injury, as well as being traded in mid-December to the Drummondville Voltigeurs, a trade that proved to be beneficial. One thing about Veleno is he knows how to win. Veleno won the OMJHL Championship in 2017, as well as serve as captain for Team Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, winning gold.

Scouts saw Veleno as a solid prospect but lacked the potential to become a superstar as he was once originally deemed. Even with Veleno picking up his production to over a point-per-game, he still fell dramatically in the draft. Thanks to a trade involving Tomas Tatar, the Red Wings received the 30th overall pick in the 2018 draft, as well as a second-round pick in this year’s draft (54th), and a 2021 third-round pick.

The trade from the Saint John Sea Dogs to the Drummondville Voltigeurs has proved to be a defining moment in Veleno’s young career. Veleno doubled his goal production in 2018-19, from 22 to 42, his assist total from 57 to 62, and his total points from 79 to 104. Veleno may just be the steal of the entire draft. There was a period time when Veleno was projected to be a top-five pick, if not the number one guy.

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Nobody predicted in any mock draft Veleno would drop all the way down to 30. Veleno is a great two-way player, and makes the player’s around him better. Veleno is a work-horse and will do whatever it takes to win. I believe Veleno in time will become the biggest steal of the draft for the Detroit Red Wings.

Potential: 2nd line center.