The Hockey News’s Ryan Kennedy penned a profile of Red Wings prospect Joe Veleno, discussing the young center’s status as an “exceptional” 15-year-old playing in the QMJHL and his mentorship of top prospect Alexis Lafreniere:
Because Veleno was granted exceptional status to join the Quebec League as a 15-year-old, he is eligible to play in the American League this season despite being only 19. That’s great for the Grand Rapids Griffins, but also for Team Canada, which will get a rare player with experience against men on its roster. So far, it’s been an interesting journey for Veleno, thanks to that exceptional status designation.
“It was a roller coaster,” he said. “It’s not easy coming into that league as a 15-year-old playing against 19- and 20-year-olds. Once I got some years under my belt, I became the older guy and things came natural. Getting that experience helped my confidence.”
Veleno went first overall to the Saint John Sea Dogs in 2015 and had a decent rookie season as an underager while playing with future NHLers such as Thomas Chabot and Mathieu Joseph. His second year was truncated by injury, but he still put up nearly a point per game. In his draft year, he was named captain of the Sea Dogs but was eventually traded to Drummondville as Saint John began a rebuild. Scouts thought he put too much pressure on himself in that last stint with Saint John and that Veleno looked more comfortable with the Voltigeurs, but he still slid to the end of the first round of the NHL draft in the summer of 2018, going 30th overall to the Red Wings, who had already taken Filip Zadina sixth overall.