Joseph Veleno (6-foot-1, 195 pounds) of Saint John in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is the first player granted "exceptional status" to play as a 15-year-old in the league. He's in his third season with Saint John, and has 17 points (three goals, 14 assists) in 18 games as captain this season. The 17-year-old native of Kirkland, Quebec, has 100 points (29 goals, 71 assists) in 125 career QMJHL games. Veleno, who received an A rating in NHL Central Scouting's preliminary players to watch list for the 2018 NHL Draft, has offered to maintain a draft diary for NHL.com leading to the 2018 NHL Draft in Dallas on June 22-23.
Hi there hockey fans.
I am writing to you as we undertake our first trip of the season to Quebec, fresh from ending a rough stretch of nine straight losses (0-6-3) with a 5-4 overtime win against the first-place Rouyn-Noranda Huskies on Sunday.
This victory certainly gave us a much-needed boost of confidence. It shows the guys that we can beat any team in the league if we play the right way. I hope we get rolling from there.
The last few days were important for the team because we spent a lot of time bonding off the ice. Some guys are still trying to find their spot on the team and still getting to know the other guys. That's good, because the whole team has to get comfortable with each other at a certain point.
We have to be talkative as well because a quiet bunch doesn't help the team morale and doesn't really help in any circumstance. But I can see that every day guys are getting comfortable with each other and making new friends. This is an important factor in our situation and that's why this three-game road trip to Quebec will be exciting. We'll be playing Baie-Comeau, Chicoutimi and Shawinigan, teams all with about the same number of points as us.
For my part, this is the first time I have experienced a season with so much adversity. The teams I played with were pretty strong, putting up some goals and we had a really good offense. It's a little different this year.
We're a hard-working team for sure. You can see it during our games. We're not outplayed, but it's the little details that make the difference. We have been working on this aspect lately and we'll have to do it throughout the season. We want to improve and learn new things, and the guys are really dedicated to that. That's nice to see.
I feel my playmaking skills have been on display this season. In fact, that's the kind of player I've always been. I can count on guys who can score and that makes my job a little easier. I'm always trying to improve myself, especially my shot, so I can't wait to contribute more goals. But I'm not too worried, it will come with time.
I keep taking more shots on goal every year and that's what I'll continue to do. I already have 57 this season. It's clear that the number of quality shots I take needs to increase and that I need to take advantage of every good scoring chance I get because I don't get those too often. But it's getting there.
If I keep shooting and continue to work the right way, I think the hockey gods will reward me and good things will happen.
Until then, pray to them for me! See you soon.