Photo Credit: (Photo: Jerome Miron, USA TODAY Sports)

Joe Veleno: The one who got away

The Edmonton Oilers had a good draft weekend. They got a fantastic prospect in Evan Bouchard, who will be a great defenceman for this team in the future.

He checks a lot of boxes as a defenceman and moreso for the Oilers. His big frame, strong shot and scoring ability will patrol the blue line for years to come.

Outside of Bouchard, the Oilers drafted well in moving up for the top ranked goaltender and some other solid prospects.

However, there is one player who got away.

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Joe Veleno.

If you follow me on twitter (and if you don’t, you can now!), you know that on draft night and since I have been abashed about the fact the team didn’t move up into the late first round and select a free falling Veleno.

If you don’t follow me on Twitter, then here is a glimpse into the stressful night it was for me.

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This is how it started:

Then it went to this:

And lastly, some of this:

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That last one came just before Veleno was taken by the Red Wings 30th overall and I died a little bit inside.

Joe who?

Joe Veleno is one of the few players to have ever been granted exceptional status into the Canadian Hockey league.

At 15 years old, he was drafted by the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs 1st overall. Packed with hype and excitement, he never quite lived up to expectations as a player with exceptional status.

By the end of his career, he was still able to put up a very respectable 162 points in 171 QMJHL games and was a highly touted prospect coming into this year’s draft.

He came in at number five on Bob McKenzie’s pre-season draft rankings and ended up at number 11 by the season’s end — none the less, he was still a highly regarded player.

For reason’s unknown, he slid and was gifted to the Red Wings.

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Just this week, he told the Detroit Free Press “…for any player who slides in the draft, obviously it kind of gets to you a little bit and you want to kind of shove it to the other teams that passed you.”

Doesn’t that sound like the kind of player you would want on your team right now?

Veleno, a centre who is an elite skater with strong two-way prowess would be a much needed asset for the Edmonton Oilers.

Please note this isn’t a knock against Oilers draft pick Ryan McLeod, who looks to be a solid NHL centre one day, but rather a chance to reflect on what could’ve been.

It’s fair to say the first round of this years draft was a weird one.

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Jesperi Kotkaniemi to Montreal at three started the weirdness, and it was followed by Arizona taking Barrett Hayton fifth, Zadina sliding to Detroit at six followed by other head scratching move.

The cost to move up in the last half of the first round wasn’t astronomical as we saw two trades: New York traded picks 26 and 48 to Ottawa for pick 22 and Toronto traded pick 25 to St. Louis for picks 29 and 76.

The Oilers had picks 40 and 71 from this year’s draft they could have dangled, plus a second or one of two thirds from next year’s draft.

Using a draft pick trade tool developed by Miles Hoaken, we can take a look at what would’ve made sense for the Oilers, or another team.

If the Oilers were enamoured with Veleno, they could’ve easily moved picks 40 and 71 to teams to a team anywhere from 22-30.

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It’s all a game of what-coulda-been at this point, but man, I would’ve loved to see Veleno in Oilers threads.

On Twitter: @zjlaing


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  • WhoreableGuy

    His downward fall reminded me of Angelo Esposito (and to a lesser extent, the late Cherapanov).

    Veleno, unlike Esposito, is the real deal though. Might be the draft day steal a few years from now.

    • TruthHurts98

      I watched a ton of draft previews on players and most scouts were saying Veleno was a ‘safe’ choice but is perceived ceiling wasn’t very high. He’s projected to be a 3rd line centre with potential for a 2nd line spot. Time will tell. I think Keith Gretzky has made some really good picks in the past. I hope he made the right choices!

  • 18% body fat

    The Q is not as good as the W or O. Players have to be close to 1.75 points per game for the offensive potential to equal that of a 1.15 player from the other 2 leagues. when the player is elite, it is not as big of an issue. But his numbers arent there.

  • toprightcorner

    I thin the Oilers were already planning on trading up in the 3rd round as after about pick 80, the quality level really dropped. This way they get 3 quality prospects instead of just 2. Players from about 25-45 were all so closely matched that losing 3rd round pick, where the quality was still decent, is the smarter play.

  • HockeyYoda

    Sorry but I disagree, seen him play the under 18‘s. And his speed was definitely not elite. I would say his speed was average, I was specifically watching his game because I had heard about him. He did have some good qualities, but I felt his foot speed was too ordinary. I suppose his skating could improve, but that rarely happens. John Taveras and Bo Horvat pulled it off, but the list is long on guys who didn’t.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Zack, as you can see from the trades, a mid-2nd rounder or high 3rd rounder was the price to move up 4-5 spots in the first rounds.

    Our 2nd rounder plus 3rd rounder would not have got us a late 1st round pick to get Valeno.

    I team may have traded down 4-6 spots in the 1st round for our 2nd rounder (or maybe 3rd rounder) but not out completely.

    We didn’t have the picks to move up to the late 1st round to take Valeno.

  • TKB2677

    McLeod is a great skater, bigger and had almost the same numbers as Veleno, the difference being McLeod plays in the OHL which is a WAY better junior league than the QMJL. I am not sure why the Oilers should have paid the heavy price to move up to draft a lesser player.

  • maroussi

    Anyone can play your game. Dumbest game in the world. You are saying Veleno will be a better player than McLeod plus Rodrigue, and you may end up being right. And five years from now, you can pound your chest and say, see, I was right five years ago, I had the insight to be right back then. But beyond that, besides thinking you are smarter than Bob Green and Keith Gretzky on future potential, I hope you limit your writings. Minds that operate your way are not societal needs.