The latest in our series of draft profiles looks at center Gabe Vilardi. There's no consensus No. 3 pick after Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier in this year's draft, but Vilardi does show up in the third spot on many lists. Described by Red Line Report as a "big, strong, rugged center with skill," Vilardi had a strong regular season with Windsor of the Ontario Hockey League despite missing time with injuries and then helped the Spitfires capture the 2017 Memorial Cup. If the Stars hold onto that third overall pick in the draft, Vilardi is a guy who is expected to be available for selection.
Height/Weight: 6-3/203 pounds
Born: August 16, 1999
Birthplace: Kingston, Ontario
2016-17 Team: Windsor (Ontario Hockey League)
NHL Central Scouting: 4th among North American skaters
International Scouting Services: 3rd among all skaters
TSN: 3rd among all players
The Hockey News: 3rd among all players
Red Line Report: 4th among all players
ESPN: 3rd among all skaters
Vilardi tallied 61 points (29 goals, 32 assists) in 49 games for Windsor of the Ontario Hockey League. He led the team in goals and ranked second in points despite missing extended time due to a knee injury suffered at Canada's Under-18 camp in August and then undergoing an appendectomy in November. Vilardi led the Spitfires in playoff scoring with six points (two goals, four assists) in seven games. He tallied seven points (all assists) in four games as Windsor, which was the host team, won the 2017 Memorial Cup. Vilardi was named to the Memorial Cup All-Star team.
"It was a pretty cool experience to win it," Vilardi told reporters at the NHL Combine. "It was a great tournament for the team going 4-0 and a very special feeling winning that. It's something I'll never forget."
In 2015-16, Vilardi was named to the OHL Second All-Rookie Team after recording 38 points (17 goals, 21 assists) in 62 games with Windsor. He tallied four points (one goal, three assists) in five playoff games. He won a gold medal with Canada White at the 2015 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, ranking second on the team with seven points (four goals, three assists). Vilardi was the 2014-15 Hockey Eastern Ontario Player of the Year after recording 39 points (18 goals, 21 assists) in 21 games for the CIHA Voyageurs.
"Vilardi is a high-end possession center with excellent hockey sense and puck-handling ability. He plays a very composed game with the puck, using his vision and playmaking ability to influence the game in all three zones. Vilardi excels below the dots in the offensive zone, where he utilizes his size and reach to control the play and generate scoring opportunities." - Dan Marr, Director NHL Central Scouting (NHL.com)
"Big body, he takes the body on the forecheck. Plays a 200-foot game. Very good shot. Special teams. Competitive. Skating is the main issue with this player. Average at best. Scores big marks on smarts, skills, size and competitiveness." - Phil Myre, International Scouting Services 2017 NHL Draft Guide (isshockey.com)
"He's got tremendous feel for the game. His hockey sense and awareness of the players around him is outstanding, with or without the puck. There may be some concern about his skating, but he's too smart not to get over that." - NHL Scout (The Hockey News Future Watch 2017)
This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.