NHL.com’s Dave Hogg offers a profile of Red Wings first-round draft pick Joe Veleno this evening, noting that the 30th overall pick received “exceptional” status in the QMJHL:
Veleno first made news in 2015 when he was the first player from Quebec to receive exceptional-player status from Hockey Canada. That allowed him to be drafted into the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League at age 15, one year younger than usual. Saint John selected him with the No. 1 pick of the 2015 QMJHL draft.
He never had a season to match some of the other players who received exceptional-player status, among them Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid, Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad and Toronto Maple Leafs forward John Tavares, all of whom entered the Ontario Hockey League at age 15 and were the No. 1 picks in their respective NHL draft years.
But Veleno took a major jump forward last season. Veleno had 31 points (six goals, 27 assists) in his first 31 games last season, but with Saint John struggling he was traded to Drummondville on Dec. 8. He had 48 points (16 goals, 33 assists) in 33 games after the trade, and 11 points (five goals, six assists) in 10 playoff games to help Drummondville reach the second round.
His 79 points (22 goals, 57 assists) in 64 regular-season games were almost as many as he had in his first two QMJHL seasons (83).
“At Saint John things weren’t working out as well and I got the opportunity to be dealt to Drummondville, a contending team with some really good players, and I kind of found my game after that,” he said.