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Detroit Red Wings

Veleno Has Made Himself Indispensable to the Red Wings



Joe Veleno, Red Wings

Joe Veleno’s value as an NHL player is that he can be effective on the first line, fourth line and all lines in between. He serves as coach Derek Lalonde’s five-in-one tool.

“(There are a) ton of guys like that in our lineup and I think it’s helped our depth and made us competitive all year, the ability to play (Veleno) on the wing, center,” Detroit coach Derek Lalonde said. “Our No. 1 center goes down, have him jump right in at center.”

Veleno will center Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane Wednesday night when the Red Wings play the Colorado Avalanche in Denver. The speedy Veleno said recently that he believes he has played with every forward on the roster at one time or another this season.  He’s played on all four lines. He’s also been a penalty killer and spent time on the power play.

He can skate, check, play defensively and contribute just enough offensively to contribute to every aspect of Detroit’s game

“(Andrew) Copp is similar like that,” Lalonde said “(Michael Rasmussen) is similar. I think extremely valuable, especially in today’s NHL. ”

More Minutes

The 2018 first round pick averaged 13:59 minutes per game, but will be closer to 20 minutes when he replaces the injured Dylan Larkin.

Veleno, 24, has taken advantage of his expanded opportunity to put up 11 goals and 26 points.

“I think it’s just confidence in his game,” Lalonde said. “He’s always had the pop in his skating. Needs to be a little more assertive with the puck. I think what’s really impressive this year is last year he started to tail off towards the second half of the season. That has not been the case. That’s a credit to him and his growth.”

Veleno said he doesn’t feel he has to change who he is to play with Kane and DeBrincat.

“I still want to play my game and what’s given me success,” Veleno said. “Kind of what’s maybe put me in this spot to begin with. Obviously, they’re two highly-skilled players that demand the puck and want the puck, so I’m definitely gonna try to be strong on pucks, win some battles. Definitely try to make them play with the puck like they want to. Just gonna try to help them out in any way I can contribute.”

Fischer Earns More Responsibility

Veleno said his objective was to continue playing the right way. “Try to earn as much trust as I can get,” Veleno said.

With Veleno moving up to the top line, Christian Fischer’s work as fourth-line center becomes more important. Coaches have liked his work there.

“Reliable. Very valuable for us.” Lalonde said. “Wherever he is in our lineup we just ask him to win shifts for us. He does that. He’s predictable, he’s simple. He gets his nose over pucks, he goes to hard areas. I know Larks made that joke in here six weeks ago – second assist assist, the unseen assist. But there’s truth to it. You look at a lot of our offense, a lot of our sustained zone time, it’s usually him keeping the forecheck alive, it’s him getting over a puck, winning a battle, being net front in a shot scramble situation. Been a very, very valuable player for us.”