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By the Numbers Prospects: Joe Veleno

Young center had a spectacular finish to his junior career, now ready for next step

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

By the Numbers will highlight the on-ice accomplishments in the 2018-19 season for the Detroit Red Wings' prospects. Twice a week during the offseason, By the Numbers will profile a different player in the system, focusing on his statistical highs. This week we focus on forward Joe Veleno.

By every account, Joe Veleno did everything he was supposed to do in his final season of junior hockey with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Drummondville Voltigeurs.

The Detroit Red Wings drafted Veleno in the first round, 30th overall, in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: "He fits the mold of what we're trying to accomplish." #RedWingsTV sits down with @jveleno91. | #LGRW

Veleno showed off his speed and his willingness to learn throughout his first development camp, establishing strong relationships with Shawn Horcoff, the Wings' director of player development, and Dan Cleary, the Wings' player development assistant.

After an impressive prospect tournament, training camp and preseason, Veleno finally returned to the Voltigeurs on Sept. 24 after playing in three exhibition games.

Veleno carried the confidence that he built with the Wings with him and had career bests in goals, assists and plus-minus while cutting down on his penalty minutes.

Veleno also earned a spot on Team Canada's world junior team and contributed two assists in five games.

The speedy center, who turned 19 on Jan. 13, earned QMJHL First All-Star Team honors and was a finalist for the league's most valuable player.

The Voltigeurs named Veleno their most valuable player for his incredible season, which he documented for in his blog, From the Q to the D.

On May 1, the Red Wings signed Veleno to a three-year entry-level contract.

Tweet from @Voltigeurs_DRU: Congrats @jveleno91 !

Because Veleno was granted exceptional status and played in the QMJHL as a 15-year-old, he completed four seasons of major junior hockey and is free to play in the American Hockey League at age 19.

Of course, Veleno would like nothing more than to impress the Wings enough throughout development camp, the prospect tournament, training camp and the preseason to win a job in Detroit.

Tweet from @Voltigeurs_DRU: Capable de changer le cours d���un match par sa vitesse, sa fougue et son talent, Joe Veleno m��rite amplement le titre de joueur le plus utile de l���ann��e (MVP).

104 -- Veleno led the Voltigeurs in points with 104. Nicolas Guay, who was in Detroit's development camp last summer, was second with 87 points. In the QMJHL, Rouyn-Noranda's Peter Abbandonato led the league with 111 points. Baie-Comeau's Ivan Chekhovich and Rimouski's Alexis Lafreniere had 105 points apiece. Those were the only three players with more points than Veleno.

Tweet from @Voltigeurs_DRU: Joe Veleno a connu une ann��e exceptionnelle avec 104 points en 59 parties jou��es. Toute la saison, le talentueux espoir des Red Wings de Detroit en a mis plein la vue aux partisans des Voltigeurs��� Et aux gardiens adverses ! Il est notre joueur offensif de l'ann��e.

1.76 -- Veleno averaged 1.76 points per game, which ranked second in the QMJHL.

42 -- The talented young forward made a huge jump in goal scoring, going from 22 in 2017-18, which was split between Saint John (6) and Drummondville (16), to 42 in 59 games this past season. Veleno was seventh in the league in goals. Halifax's Samuel Asselin led the league with 48 goals in 69 games. Moncton's Jeremy McKenna and Baie Comeau's Nathan Legare each had 45 goals in 68 games. Baie-Comeau's Chekhovich and Rouyn-Noranda's Joel Teasdale each had 43 goals in 66 games. Cape Breton's Mitchell Balmas had 43 goals in 64 games.

62 -- Veleno also set a new career high in assists with 62 in 59 games, beating the 57 he had the previous season in 64 games, split between Saint John (25) and Drummondville (32). He was third in the league in that category, trailing only Rouyn Noranda's Abbandonato's 82 assists in 68 games. Rimouski's Lafreniere had 68 assists in 61 games. Baia-Comeau's Chekhovich also had 62 assists but in 66 games.

63 -- Sometimes top scorers are also on the ice when opponents score, which affects their plus-minus but Veleno didn't seem to suffer in that area. He was plus-63, far and away a career best. Last season he was plus-4 overall, minus-10 in 31 games with Saint John and plus-14 with Drummondville. The plus-63 was second in the league to Rouyn-Noranda's Abbandonato's plus-71.

7 -- Of Veleno's 42 goals, seven came while the Voltigeurs were shorthanded. Those seven shorties were tied with teammate Guay for the league lead. Rouyn-Noranda's Teasdale had six shorthanded goals. The seven shorthanded goals more than doubles the three Veleno had the previous season. Veleno was also plus-7 in the playoffs, improving from his minus-1 in the 2018 playoffs.

17 -- Although Drummondville did not reach the Memorial Cup final, Veleno continued his offensive prowess in the playoffs with 17 points in 16 games. He was tied with Felix Lauzon for the team lead. It was a similar pace to his previous season when he had 11 points in 10 playoff games.

8 -- Of his 17 playoff points, Veleno had eight goals. Only Maxime Comtois had more for the Voltigeurs with 11. Veleno also had eight game-winning goals during the regular season, topping the three he had in 2017-18.

9 -- Veleno had nine playoff assists. Mercer Dawson led the Voltigeurs with 11 assists and Lauzon was second with 10.

6 -- On Nov. 24, Veleno set a career high with six points in a 7-1 victory over the Moncton Wildcats. He had three goals and three assists.

Tweet from @CraigJButton: Hey @DetroitRedWings fans. In @QMJHL action, @Voltigeurs_DRU @jveleno91 with a huge night. He nets the 🎩🎩🎩🏒 & 🍎🍎🍎 for a nice 6������ points. 16 goals & 35 points in season.

19 -- Despite playing a lot, Veleno was assessed just 19 penalty minutes in 59 games. That is a considerable drop from the 48 penalty minutes he had in 2017-18. That is the second fewest Veleno has had in a season during his junior career. He had 18 penalty minutes in 45 games for Saint John in 2016-17.

Quotable: "He had a great year. If he didn't lead the league in points per game, he was darn close in the Q. He's a guy that is turning pro, we signed him to a contract, I know he's going to work hard this summer, we have a real good plan in place for him. We have high expectations for Joe. So we're looking forward to him turning pro and see what he can do." -- Shawn Horcoff, Red Wings director of player development

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