Veleno A Sounding Board For Lafreniere
You only need to watch Alexis Lafreniere in action for a few moments to realize that he’s no average Joe.
When Lafreniere, 17, the consensus choice to be the top pick in the 2020 NHL entry draft, seeks a sounding board, or simply someone to talk to, he often turns to someone that the Detroit Red Wings certainly hope will be an above-average Joe.
That would be Joe Veleno, picked 30th overall by Detroit in the 2018 entry draft.
The two have been sometimes linemates for Canada during the World Junior Summer Showcase at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich. but they’ve been fast friends for much longer than that.
“Yeah, I know him,” Lafreniere said of Veleno. “Yeah for sure.
“I’ve talked to him a lot. We try to help each other, two guys from the Quebec League. He’s so good and off the ice, he’s a real good guy.
“We’re helping each other and trying to get better.”
Veleno and Lafreniere share a somewhat similar history. Both played last season in the QMJHL - Veleno for the Drummondville Voltigeurs and Lafreniere for the Rimouski Oceanic.
Veleno was the first player in QMJHL history to be granted exceptional player status by Hockey Canada, permitting him to play in the league at the age of 15, so much like Lafreniere, he’s been ahead of the curve, always skating against players that were older than him.
“I think it made me a lot more mature as a person, as a player, and obviously looking back at it, it was something I really wanted to be the first one in the QMJHL,” Veleno said. “I guess it doesn’t really matter now at this point in time but yeah, I learned a lot from that, the maturity level from a lot of older players.
“It made me a better person today.”
It also made Veleno the perfect sounding board for Lafreniere last season when he played for Canada at the world junior championship at the age of 16.
“It shows he’s able to compete at this level,” Veleno said. “It looks like he has no problem on the ice. He’s going to be a hell of a player later on, he already is now.
“His skill set, his work ethic, I think that’s what makes him, that’s what sets him apart from everyone else.”
The Swedish team here for the WJSS got a treat thanks to the most famous Swede to ever play for the Red Wings.
Hall of Fame defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom arranged for the club to get a tour of Little Caesars Arena, including a visit to the Red Wings dressing room.
The Swedish club includes Red Wings draftees foward Jonatan Berggren and goalie Jesper Eliasson.
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