This season is a make or break year for many Penguin prospects – but the prospect with the most to gain or lose this season is the 6’ 5” Keven Veilleux.

Veilleux has only played 57 games in his past 30 months. The goal for a prospect that has played so little should simply be to stay healthy this season.

However, Veilleux needs to produce this season to prove he was worth the second round pick in 2007. Veilleux is one of the largest and most skilled prospects the Penguins have had in years. His raw talent is better than top prospect Eric Tangradi, as is his size.

Veilleux’s problem is that “he has all the tools but no toolbox.”

Veilleux was drafted over notable prospects and NHL players such as Oscar Moller (LAK), Wayne Simmonds (LAK), T.J. Galiardi (COL), Drayson Bowman (CAR), Yannick Weber (MTL), Nick Palmieri (NJ), and Luca Caputi (TOR).

Veilleux was drafted just after prospects like Eric Tangradi (PIT), P.K. Subban (MTL), Michal Repik (FLA), Dana Tyrell (TB), and Bill Sweatt (VAN).

The amazing thing is that Veilleux’s ability, when he’s “on”, is arguably higher than any of those players.

“Beast mode” was just settling in last year in his first professional season with Wilkes-Barre but he suffered his second major injury in 2 years. One game after a mini breakout game against Portland, Veilleux took a cheap, late hit in a game against Hershey and missed the rest of the season.

Video of his breakout game (great goal 0:23 second mark):

Video of his second career fight (first fight was the previous game):

Veilleux says he is 100% in camp this season and he looks hungry to prove his critics wrong. The knocks against Veilleux were for hit lackluster play at times and tendency not to use his size to his advantage. However, since turning pro that has not been the case.

Veilleux is off to a great start in Wilkes-Barre where he has 3 goals and 1 assist and Jason Iacona of Chirps from Center Ice had this to say of Veilleux’s performance thus far: “Keven Veilleux: Man amongst boys tonight. 2 goals and an assist. Dangling all over the ice. Sickening stick handling skills. He may not be able to get away with the dangling come regular season, but he’ll easily get 30-35 goals this year and 60-70 assists if he stays healthy.”

Another positive factor for this season is the fact that Veilleux is making a concerted effort to learn English. He is from Quebec so French is his first language but it is interesting it has taken him this long to learn English. Back at prospect camp in July, he could barely speak a word of it (or didn’t want to) but according to Jonathan Bombulie, beat writer for the WBS Penguins, his English is much improved over even July. (Tom Kuehnhackl, born in Germany and just moved to the States this season, spoke English much much better than Veilleux in July)

All signs point to Veilleux working harder to acheive his enormous potential – a far cry from the past where he skated by on skill alone. If Veilleux can have a big season for Wilkes-Barre, he could see some NHL action as early as next season.

If Veilleux can find himself a toolbox, he may be finally able to do some serious work at reaching his potential.