Red Wings prospect Joe Veleno probably won’t make the Wings’ roster out of training camp, but the QMJHL alumnus believes that he’s come a long way over the past couple of seasons, and that he is an asset to whatever team he ends up playing upon, as he told the Free Press’s Helene St. James…
“What do I better than other guys?” Veleno said after Wednesday’s morning skate. “Make a difference whether it’s creating a chance or playing well defensively, all the little details are going to be important to my game. One of my best attributes is using my speed.
“You know you can always get better at something every year and I guess in a lot of players, it’s looking to score more goals. You want to contribute offensively and having a good shot, being able to score goals, have that skill, comes a long way.”
Veleno is hoping to do what Larkin did and make the Wings at 19 years old. Larkin had a terrific rookie year (23 goals, 45 points) but he spent the season playing wing on a line with veteran Henrik Zetterberg at center. Veleno is up against a depth chart down the middle that numbers Larkin, Valtteri Filppula, Frans Nielsen and Luke Glendening, plus prospects Michael Rasmussen, Christoffer Ehn and Jacob de la Rose (some of those players could also make it as a wing).
“It’s a hard league to play in and you have to work hard for every little bit of it,” Veleno said. “For some guys, it’s pretty much their jobs and you’re trying to earn a spot, trying to take someone’s job. That’s what it comes down to now.”
St. James continues, and she posted a video of Veleno and coach Jeff Blashill’s comments…
The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan also wrote an article about Veleno…
Another item coach Jeff Blashill wanted to stress was Veleno concentrating on becoming a complete two-way center, effective on the defensive side as much as becoming a threat offensively.
“It hard to be a pure point guy, and you look at his point (totals) in juniors, they were good but they weren’t astronomical,” Blashill said. “To think you come here and all of a sudden go astronomical in points would be misleading. So become a great two-way center.”
Blashill told Veleno to concentrate on defense, too, and that can help any young player get to the NHL.
“I told him the quickest way to the NHL is to earn trust,” Blashill said. “That’s true of every organization. So if you earn trust from the coach, you get out there way quicker.
“So be great defensively, transport the puck up the ice like he does and produce offense, like he does. You have to do both, for sure, if you want to be a top-two line center, but you better make sure you are good defensively.”
Kulfan also continues; the Wings posted videos of Veleno and Blashill’s remarks:
Update: Here’s a little more from Hockeybuzz’s Bob Duff:
“The confidence is obviously high,” Veleno said. “I had a pretty good tournament but I’ve got to reset myself here. I know it’s a different level. This is like the real stuff, I guess. It all starts tonight.
“It’s a hard league to play in and you gotta work hard for every little bit of it. For some guys, it’s pretty much their jobs. You’re trying to earn a spot on a team, take someone’s job. I guess that’s what it comes down to now. You’re playing in the NHL. You want to play in the best league in the world, so you gotta work for it. I gotta get better every year.”
One aspect he strived to improve this summer was his goal-scoring ability.
“Obviously to shoot more,” he said of what he’s worked on since last year’s NHL camp. “I think that was one thing I wasn’t doing as much in junior a couple of years ago. And then once I was drafted here, they kept telling me to shoot the puck. I worked on my shot in the summer and got stronger. Before, I just kind of shot and hoped it goes in.
Shooting the puck both quicker and harder was on Veleno’s to-do list.
“Just making it quicker,” Veleno said. “On your stick, off your stick. I guess accuracy obviously and just the strength of it. I’m working on forearm strength and shooting pucks constantly on the ice. It helps translate in the game.”