Joe Veleno entered the 2017-18 season as a top 5 prospect for the 2018 NHL Draft. In November, I had him 5th on my list, and viewed him as a future first line centre. A month later, in December, I had him 13th, and viewed him as more of a two way 2C. At that point, I started to doubt if he would be able to produce enough at the NHL level to be a first liner. I haven’t released a ranking since then, but I’m finalizing my list for a February 1st release. In early January, when his slump continued, my initial doubts worsened, and I began to believe that he might only ever be a 3C. Now, in late January, I see him as a 2C again, thanks to him breaking out of a lengthy slump following a trade deadline move.
On December 8, Joe Veleno was traded from the Saint John Sea Dogs to the Drummondville Voltigeurs for 3 QMJHL 1st round picks and 2 secound round selections. Veleno moved from the QMJHL’s second last team to the fourth best. With the Sea Dogs, Veleno had 31 points in 31 games. Those are good numbers, but not what is expected from a top 5, or even top 8 pick. So far with Drummondville, he has 15 points in 10 games, a 1.5 PPG clip. That’s top 5 production. When a player goes from a bad team to a good team, a rise in production is expected. However, I think Veleno should still get credit for ending his slump.
Veleno was at a PPG with one of the league’s worst teams, and he’s now at 1.5 PPG with one of the best. Using some amateur analytics, we can say that Veleno would be at roughly 1.25 PPG, top 10 numbers, on an average team.
I ultimately see Veleno as a second line centre, and a top 15 pick. He has only played 10 games with his new team, so the emphasis placed on his play with Drummondville should he limited. I think he will end up with about a 1.25 PPG by the end of the season. Good numbers, but I still don’t know if he has the offensive potential for the first line. Instead, he looks best suited to lead a second line that can both produce offense and shutdown the opposition’s top players, thanks to his 200-foot game.
There is still lots of time left for Veleno to regain the massive potential that he used to have. It’s hard to regain lost ground, but the hard-working Veleno could certainly accomplish that. Keep an eye on this kid.