Prospect: Keven Veilleux
Veilleux is an incredibly intriguing prospect due to his rare size, puck skills, and skating ability. However, his development has been stalled by an impressive and unfortunate series of injuries that had limited him to only 57 games in his past 30 months entering this season.
He has had a good rookie season in the AHL after only playing 9 AHL games last season due to a severe shoulder injury. He was a healthy scratch occasionally in the first half of the season but earned a spot in the starting lineup with his physical play and willingness to fight anyone – a major flaw in his game in juniors.
Veilleux had been touted as a lazy player who stuck to the edges of the ice and shied away from contact but so far in his pro career that has not been the case. He was playing on the 3rd and 4th lines so he tailored his game to a checking line role and has now added fighting to his bag of tricks. After seeing a career high in penalty minutes of 54 PIM in 2007, he has more than doubled that this season with 122.
But the most intriguing thing about Veilleux is the offensive success Veilleux has had in the second half of the season in a larger role in the AHL. He is being lauded by teammates and coaches for playing in all 3 zones and being a hardworker all over the ice – far from the criticisms of Veilleux in the QMJHL.
Veilleux has a long way to go to live up to his 2nd round draft status but having a healthy season under his belt in which he produced at a modest rate is a good first step on his road to the NHL.
++ Size and strength
— Hockey Sense
— — Injury Prone
Veilleux is a huge kid who is still only 21 years old who has fought many injuries already in his short career. Slow developing but his upside could be well worth the wait.
Offense: He has a hard accurate wrist shot that he likes to use to shoot five hole or high glove. Does not use slap shot very often. Has excellent hands and is great at one on one moves against defenseman. Tends to trust his hands and deking skills too much in some instances which can result in turnovers. Great shootout performer with many different moves but loves using his great release to shoot five hole.
Defense: Veilleux has improved dramatically in his defensive zone, particularly on the backcheck. Will never win any Selke trophies but is not a liability either. Not a shot blocker.
Physicality: He has recently developed a physically punishing game in which he gets in on the forecheck hard and grinds the puck out down low. Veilleux has also turned into a decent middleweight fighter who will throw down with anyone. He needs to be physically aggressive to be successful.
What Others are Saying About Veilleux
“Veilleux brings a rare mix of size, speed, and skill to the ice but questions remain. The right-hand shooting center is capable of playing all three forward positions and is equally talented in passing and shooting. He has a hard accurate wrist shot and has shown the ability to take care of business in front and around the net.”
“The only real knock on his play is his consistency as he can be at times a dominant force on the ice and at other times invisible around the play.”
“The biggest reason why the Pittsburgh Penguins made Veilleux a second-round pick in the 2007 NHL draft is that he has the body of a 6-foot-5, 219-pound brute and the hands and puck skills of a talented playmaker.”
“With players like Dustin Jeffrey, Nick Johnson and Eric Tangradi in the lineup, Veilleux was getting checking-line ice time, so he acted like a checking-line player.”
“Veilleux on his new found physicality: ‘At the start of the year, I was fighting to stay in the lineup every night. I wasn’t scoring, so I tried to bring something else. I dropped the gloves a couple times and it worked well for me. Now it’s better for me. I don’t think people are scared of me, but they know if they want to fight, I’m going to fight. It’s helped me out.’
“Head Coach John Hynes: ‘He’s done a nice job of improving his puck-protection skills down below the goal line. With his body and size and his skill set, that’s where he can be pretty deadly, down low in the offensive zone. Because he has good skill, now he’s starting to find guys in the slot and getting opportunities in and around the net.’”
While Hynes appreciates Veilleux’s assist totals the last two months, there’s a stat he might find even more impressive. Before Feb. 1, Veilleux was a plus-1. Since then, he’s a plus-14.
Hynes again: “Keven’s really become a 200-foot player. If you watch him play now, he might be the first guy in on the forecheck and he’s physical and he creates a turnover. Or he might be the first guy back in the defensive zone. His intensity level and his work ethic have really taken a step, and that’s why he’s had more success.”
“That’s part of what we try to do here in this league, help potential talent find how they can play at the next level. What’s my calling? I think he’s starting to see it and feel it. He’s showing he has not only the potential but the work ethic and physical prowess to possibly play in the National Hockey League.”
NHL Comparable: Brian Boyle
++ Hulking frame, puck protection
+ Soft hands, heavy shot. – Doesn’t use size away from puck, inconsistency.
I love his size and hand skill combination as well as his howitzer shot, but his inconsistency game to game and his hesitation to use his big frame to its full advantage away from the puck keep him out of the first round. Heavy player that is extremely difficult for the opposition to move as once he plants his feet he is staying there. Does a good job opening up the ice in the offensive zone for his linemates and draws multiple defenders to him when he plants himself in front of the net. Keven possesses soft, quick hands and superior puck protection. He’s difficult to stop when he goes hard to the net with or without the puck and he can cycle the puck all day. A decent play maker, Veilleux’s strength his ability to finish. Blessed with a powerful wrist shot that is fairly accurate, Veilleux projects well as a goal scoring power forward at the next level. For a big man his feet are nimble and he shows good footwork down low which helps him shed off the oppositions checks.
Video of Veilleux in action
Veilleux’s second AHL goal last season:
Shootout goal by Veilleux at Prospect Camp in July:
Great goal against Varlamov this season:
Amazing move by Veilleux, finish by Tangradi:
Shootout goal showing off great release, accuracy:
Poor T.J. Brennan never stood a chance: