Detroit Red Wings prospect Joe Veleno: Moritz Seider ‘looked really good’ overseas

Detroit Free Press

There’s potential for excitement as the Detroit Red Wings wrap up the season.

There are six games remaining on the schedule, starting Tuesday at the Columbus Blue Jackets. While he has yet to be cleared, the hope is Joe Veleno, a first-round pick from 2018, will make his NHL debut before the Wings run out of games May 8. Veleno, 21, arrived stateside April 11 after spending the season in Sweden, and had to quarantine for a week because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but has yet to be cleared to play.

“I’ve kind of found my feet a little bit and have been working out really hard,” Veleno said Monday. “I feel pretty good and am starting to get my conditioning back.”

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The Wings loaned Veleno to Malmo in the Swedish Hockey League last fall, when it became apparent COVID-19 would delay the start of professional hockey in North America. Veleno was one of multiple Wings prospects in the SHL, where he played against 2019 first-round pick Moritz Seider, who was loaned to Rögle. Seider had 28 points after 41 games. While Veleno’s team had a quick end to the season, Seider’s team is within a victory of the championship round.

Veleno’s Redhawks played Seider’s BK multiple times.

“He looked really good,” Veleno said. “He didn’t look out of place at all. They have a chance to win it all. He has been outstanding in every aspect of the game, especially physically, hitting guys all over the ice. It’s good for him, it’s part of his game, and he’s also able to produce offense. He’s really taken a lot of steps forward.”

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So has Veleno. He has added muscle to his 6-foot-1 frame, and added dimensions to the offensive skills he displayed in juniors, when he recorded 104 points in 59 games with Drummondville in 2018-19. Veleno played both center and wing in Sweden, and while the Wings plan to have him play at that spot long-term for the rebuild, being able to play two positions will ease his adaptation to the NHL.

“I started off at center and a bit more than half the year, I was put on the wing,” Veleno said. “It would change with guys in and out of the lineup – some games I would played center, some wing. It was kind of good to learn to play wing. I played wing when I was younger, my first year in the Quebec Major Junior hockey league. I think it’s good to know to know how to play both.”

Veleno spent his first year of pro hockey, 2019-20, with the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Wings have emphasized defensive development for him to be successful at the NHL level.

“I personally think that was the biggest thing,” Veleno said. “It’s something I needed to improve a lot in my game. To be a 200-foot centerman in the NHL, you need to be relied upon defensively as well as being able to produce offensively. I think I built a lot of good things in my game defensively, and I can’t wait to go on the ice and show it.”

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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