2018 NHL Draft
Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
Steve Kournianos | 10/01/2017 | Nashville |
Height / Weight: 6’2, 194 lbs
Born: January 13th, 2000 | Kirkland, QC
The Draft Analyst Ranking:
|2015-16||Saint John (QMJHL)||62||13||30||43||21||7||151||8.6||1||1||3|
|2016-17||Saint John (QMJHL)||45||13||27||40||18||8||107||12.1||5||1||4|
|2016-17||Canada (U18 Hlinka)||4||0||4||4||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2017-18||Saint John (QMJHL)||4||1||2||3||–||-4||8||12.5||–||–||–|
|2017-18||Canada (U18 Hlinka)||5||2||5||7||8||—||—||—||—||—||—|
Multi-purpose center with quickness and a sharp hockey mind who finally will get his chance to lead Saint John after spending the last two years as a depth player. Veleno — the top pick in the 2015 QMJHL draft — was Canada’s critical piece in its recent under-18 Ivan Hlinka championship, where he was the team’s leading scorer and centered the top line. Although Veleno has an arsenal of weapons to beat you, he’s at his best when he is creating chances for his linemates via deadly accurate passes or plays off the rush. Speed is an important part of Venelo’s game, but he also slows the game down and is more than adept at carving up static defense schemes with quick cross-ice passes or slick maneuvers that present him with open lanes to the net. His positioning, quick stick and anticipation create turnovers, and he’s far less reactionary than most teenage pivots in that he understands the importance of incorporating all teammates during puck possession.
From a defensive standpoint, Veleno is an aggressive forechecker who finishes his checks, and his quick feet, agility and long reach make him an asset on the penalty kill. He consistently lends support below him own circles and will remain close to his defensemen to assist them in breakouts. He has a hard, accurate shot that doesn’t appear to give goalies to much trouble, but his soft hands and hand/eye coordination makes him more dangerous goal-scoring threat from below the hash marks. There are times he gets caught in the moment and tries to do too much, but this could be a byproduct of being a young kid who has played under a massive microscope since the CHL gave him “exceptional status” to play in the league as a 15-year-old. Nonetheless, Veleno is one of the top draft-eligible centers whose size, speed and smarts will land him in the NHL sooner than the majority of his peers.