MLive’s Ansar Khan spoke with Red Wings director of player development Shawn Horcoff regarding the development of highly-regarded prospect Joe Veleno:
I think he showed a much better awareness in the D-zone,” Horcoff said. “A lot of these young guys, they get drafted high, they think that their skill is what’s going to make the league and last a long time and that’s really frankly not the case. Very few people survive on just offensive talent in the National Hockey League and he’s going to be no different.
“If we’re going to be successful, he’s got to develop into a good 200-foot player, much like (Dylan Larkin). It has taken Larks time, but he’s really finding his game defensively. We use Larks as an example for Joe a lot.”
After leading the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in points per game (1.76) and finishing fourth in points (42 goals, 62 assists, 104 points), Veleno is preparing for his first professional season with the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins. Playing against men, at a much higher pace, and not having nearly as much space will be a big adjustment for the 6-1, 195-pound center.
“I think the time and space and the physicality, one-on-one battles are huge in the pros,” Veleno said during Red Wings development camp this week at Little Caesars Arena. “Guys are bigger, stronger, quicker, so you got to be ready for that and the time and space is one of the biggest transitions from junior to pros. You got to be able to make plays at a higher pace.”
Khan continues, and I believe that Veleno will probably start the season in Grand Rapids, but he may not end the year there.