from Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News,
The promising thing for the Wings’ organization is the strong finish by some of the young players.
There will be plenty of time ahead to analyze more of the Wings’ recent draft picks. But it’s interesting to note right now, a handful of players were playing some of their best hockey of this season — putting exclamation points on fine seasons — when the coronavirus pandemic ended everyone’s hockey schedule.
Shawn Horcoff, the Red Wings’ director of player development, identified some of the organization’s late-season risers.
- Joe Veleno, center, Grand Rapids (AHL): The Wings’ second first-round pick in 2018, Veleno was in the process of his completing his first pro season and was looking like a different player from the first half of the season.
Veleno’s overall game took off after he returned from a stellar performance during the holidays at the world junior championships for Canada.
The confidence and assertiveness in Veleno’s game was more evident, Horcoff said.
“The kid played really well the second half,” Horcoff said. “His game was starting to come on since he came from from world juniors. We really put a lot of focus on his defensive game. By the time Christmas hit, he was real comfortable and didn’t focus or think about it so much. Things were coming naturally to him.
“I’m happy with how his game came along. It’s not easy for a 19-year-old to play in the AHL, and he was playing in all situations.”