Detroit Red Wings may be best-fit to send Joe Veleno back to minors

(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) /

In 2018 under former General Manager (GM) Ken Holland, the Detroit Red Wings spent their second pick in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft on a forward out of the QMJHL, Joe Veleno. He was coming off a 100+ point season with raw talent that needed to be developed before making leaps into the AHL/NHL ranks.

Since then, he has bounced around the organization and was even shipped off overseas during the pandemic to ensure he was getting his ice time. The Detroit Red Wings are now at a point where he’s become pretty frequent on the nightly roster.

However, his stagnant performance has sparked some to wonder if he needs to hit the reset button. Ted Kulfan of The Detroit News recently wrote that the Red Wings are mulling over his options and may end up just keeping him with the pro-club, hoping he shakes out the growing pains.

Kulfan also notes that Blashill has generally been impressed with the changes Veleno has made, even if there have not been as many points attached to it. It may be time to shake it up for him and send him down, which Kulfan mentions is a possibility, so let’s examine the idea further.

Detroit Red Wings forward Joe Veleno needs to be sent down.

During the 2021-22 season, Veleno has played in 29 games in the NHL with the Red Wings, where he has just three goals and two assists for five total points. He’s averaging just 12:20 in ice-time on a nightly basis and is not being that breakout stud that people hoped for a couple of years ago.

In the minors, Veleno has just seven games where he has three goals and is seeing more time on the ice with the assumption he can work on the skills that will really add to his game. While the AHL and the NHL are different, Veleno will get a better opportunity to try and do better at the highest level if he can dominate in the AHL.

It’s not to say that if the Red Wings send down Veleno to the Grand Rapids Griffins that he will go on a scoring rampage and look like Connor McDavid on the ice. Instead, it will allow him to settle in, work on skill development/training and get more opportunities to do so.

If Veleno starts scoring more and finding the back of the net/racking up some points, it will help his confidence and allow him to come back to the Red Wings in a much more beneficial way.

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While the article linked from Kulfan above says the Red Wings are mulling this decision, it seems like sending him down would do the most good for Veleno and the future of this team’s forward core.