Wednesday, July 5, 2017

An early look at the 2018 NHL Draft

According to The Hockey News, meetings between the Saint John Sea Dogs and Halifax Mooseheads will be well attended by scouts this season.

In the magazine's annual Draft Preview edition, Sea Dogs forward Joe Veleno was ranked third overall for the 2018 NHL Draft, just behind Andrei Svechnikov of the Barrie Colts and Rasmus Dahlin of Sweden. Meanwhile, the magazine's top 10 also included Halifax Mooseheads defenceman Jared McIssac at No. 9 and forward Benoit-Olivier Groulx at No. 10.

The Sea Dogs and Mooseheads meet on opening night this year, which takes place Sept. 21 at Harbour Station.

Veleno, the first exceptional status player in QMJHL history, is projected to be a top 10 pick in the 2018 draft by most publications that have released rankings. This will, obviously, be a big season for the 17-year-old.

"I don't know if his game has come where a lot of people expected offensively since he's battled injuries, but he's a guy that I'm excited to watch next year," Central Scouting's Troy Dumville - who once worked with the Sea Dogs - told last month.

"Veleno is a highly intelligent kid with a good compete level and a lot of confidence."

Last month, The Hockey Writers listed Veleno as one of the top prospects available for next year's draft. They have the Sea Dogs forward ranked fourth in their July rankings behind Dahlin, Svechnikov and Quinton Hughes of the USNTDP.

SB Nation's college hockey blog also released some 2018 rankings last month (although they seemingly forgot to include Veleno in their 'A' listing section). "Veleno isn’t likely to be the top overall pick, but has played well enough that he’ll likely be in the conversation for the top ten," wrote Chris Dilks.

Veleno has recorded 83 points in 107 regular season QMJHL games. He's added 18 points - 14 of them goals - in 35 playoff matches. It'll be interesting to see how Veleno rises or falls in the 2018 rankings throughout the the year.

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