Center Joseph Veleno (6-foot-1, 191 pounds) of Drummondville in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is the first player granted exceptional status to play as a 15-year-old in the league. Now 18, he had 31 points (six goals, 25 assists) in 31 games as captain with Saint John before being traded to Drummondville on Dec. 10, and had 48 points (16 goals, 32 assists) in 33 games. Veleno, No. 8 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, offered to maintain a draft diary for NHL.com leading up to the draft this weekend in Dallas. In his final edition, he talks about his day at the draft and being selected by the Detroit Red Wings at No. 30.
Hello, everyone. What a long but amazing day this has been.
I was able to actually get a good night's sleep last night. I had to wake up at 3 a.m. to catch my flight out of Montreal to Dallas, so I was pretty gassed by Thursday night. It was a long day. I got to see some family and grab some dinner, but I was pretty exhausted at the end of the day.
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I slept in a little bit, got up about 9:30 a.m. We got breakfast and then my family wanted to go shopping. Some friends tagged along so that made it fun. We got lunch, then came back to the hotel and I played some Xbox with my roommate here, Kevin Mandolese, the goalie from Cape Breton of the QMJHL.
Between the shopping and the Xbox, I was doing a bunch of stuff to kind of forget about the nerves.
I was pretty OK until I had to put my suit on. That was probably the time of the day I felt the most nervous. I started getting a little sweaty walking outside with the heat, seeing all those people and the teams coming into the arena.
It was a long night sitting up in the stands waiting to hear my name called. It picked up when I started getting into my range, between No. 10 and No. 20. That's where my expectations were. But seeing two centers go in the top five, you know anything can happen in the draft.
When the Red Wings called my name at No. 30, it was such a special feeling. So ecstatic, so excited to hear my name called. I've watched the draft for a couple years now and I put myself in that situation, imagining my name getting called and going up on stage, shaking hands with the organization. It was an awesome feeling to actually do it. Words can't describe the emotions that I was feeling getting up from my seat.
Video: Red Wings draft F Joe Veleno No. 30
And I had no idea it was coming. I had gone out for dinner with Detroit at the combine -- they were the only ones I went out for dinner with -- so that showed they had a little bit of interest in me, but I didn't know how much until now.
I got to talk to Commissioner Gary Bettman on the stage and he said, 'welcome, the day has finally arrived.' I'm never going to forget that. I also talked to some of the Red Wings people. They congratulated me, said they were happy they got to pick me, they're happy I'm with their organization, they had me high on their list, and they really liked me.
I'm going to try to enjoy this moment with everyone here, but I have development camp coming up June 26 and then I'm going home to Montreal to train for the summer before I have rookie camp in August.
Detroit is a first-class organization with a lot of history, a good winning mentality, and a good staff. It's going to be fun to see what the future holds and how I'm going to progress with that organization.
Thanks to everyone for following the blog all season.