Joe Veleno thinks he can play for the Detroit Red Wings this season

Embed from Getty Images “I do, I think so,” Joe Veleno said. “For any guy here, it’s a big opportunity. Detroit’s in a big rebuild and there’s a lot of open spots. I’m definitely taking that into consideration and giving it my best to play on the team next year.” Responding to the question if the young center feels he can make it to Detroit at some point this season.

After spending the last four years in juniors, 19 year old Joe Veleno is confident he can take the next step. That next step will most likely see Veleno start the 2019-20 season in Grand Rapids with the Griffins.

Rewind for a moment to the 2018 NHL draft. Joe Veleno was widely viewed as a first round 10-15 draft pick. He fell all the way to #30 in the first round. Then Detroit Red Wings general manager, Ken Holland made an easy call.

Joe Veleno understands his season will start in Grand Rapids, in the AHL. It will allow him to adjust to the pro game away from the pressures of the NHL. If he adjusts well, he could be summoned to Detroit.

Development camp is underway at Little Caesars Arena. This is the time for prospects to show how much they have grown and where they’re placement could be. The five-day event kicked off with a dinner highlighted by a speech from Steve Yzerman, two months into his reign as general manager.

Veleno said Yzerman’s speech was centered on the fact the Red Wings are in a rebuild and there are open roster spots to be won. “He was telling us there are going to be a lot of open spots and it doesn’t matter if you’re a first round draft pick or a camp invite, everyone is battling for a position,” Veleno said.

Veleno wrapped up his junior career with 104 points in 59 games for Drummondville in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Solid number to be sure. Joe Veleno said he is going to work on  how to create time and space for yourself and how to make plays at a higher pace.

It will be interesting to how Joe Veleno develops this summer and upcoming season.

How I evaluate talent

Embed from Getty Images I was asked how I evaluate talent recently. While I am absolutely not a trained scout, I do have a firm understanding of skill, sports IQ and how a potential prospect fits the dynamics of a team. With that said, I will walk you through how I identified Moritz Seider as a good draft pick for the Detroit Red Wings.

The first thing I look at are strengths and weaknesses. Moritz Seider’s strengths are: Skating, decision making and defensive awareness. While his weakness is puck control. So as you can see strength outweighs the weakness. That is a plus.

Next it is a bit more involved, I try to weed through (in this case) NHL potential. Which means a lot of Youtube. Player highlights, complete games and spotlight (on that prospect only.)

 

Moritz Seider, is a big, mobile and very smart two-way defenseman with few weaknesses. Seider plays a mature game with strong and consistent defensive decisions. Offensively, his vision allows him to be a very good passer and he is also good at getting his shot through. As you can see in the highlight provided by Youtube.

Seider’s best attribute is his hockey IQ. . He can anticipate plays, sometimes two steps ahead of his opponents,  his backward speed and mobility allow him to play a tight gap in the neutral zone,  defensively sound and can be relied upon on the penalty kill because of his great gap control,  He recognizes his options when playing the puck and rarely makes an unforced errors.
Moritz is a big. Something the Detroit Red Wings lack on defense currently. Detroit Red Wings general manager, Steve Yzerman made it know he likes to build his teams from the back-end out. With that in mind. A big defensman, Yzerman likes to build defense first. It was easy for me to come to the conclusion Detroit was going defense with they’re first round draft pick. Over the glam names and centers that were still on the board.
Yes the Detroit Red Wings have some very good defensive prospects. In my opinion Moritz Seider is right there with Filip Hroneck at the top of the list for the Wings.
So that is how I identify prospects for the teams I follow.

The Detroit Red Wings 2019 NHL draft: Day 2

Embed from Getty Images April 19, 2019, Steve Yzerman returned to the Detroit Red Wings organization. The only organization he knew during his 20 year Hall of Fame career. When he fielded questions from the media right after accepting the general manager position, Yzerman was asked what his first order of business would be. His answer, “To assess the entire organization and go from there.”

Steve Yzerman’s assessments have become crystal clear. Clearly we was not happy with the current state of the Detroit Red Wings defense. Friday nights first round of the NHL draft saw Yzerman and his scouting department begin to overhaul and reshape the defense.

Starting with first round draft pick Moritz Seider, The Red Wings would continue to add defense. With the first of three second round draft picks Detroit picked Finnish defensemen Antti Tuomisto.  standing 6′ 4″ he is the same size as Moritz Seider.

Tuomisto, is fast he has a powerful stride he reaches top speed quickly with his above average acceleration. Tuomisto is hard to knock off the puck. He absolutely needs to add upper body strength to improve leverage.

Red Wings fans will be happy Antti Tuomisto is an offensive defensemen. He is nasty on the forecheck and is a very good passer, allowing him to quarterback the power play. He needs to polish his defensive skills up a bit. Once he adds some muscle Tuomisto will be very dangerous in the dirty areas. He excels at blocking shots.

With the next second round pick, Detroit went offense. Robert Mastrosimone. In Mastrosimone the Red Wings get a left wing/ center who is a good not great skater. Robert does possess a explosive first step and acceleration. He has some rough aspects to his game that need to be refined.

What Mastrosimone is, is a sniper. He has an above average heavy wrist shot and excellent release. He has very good stick handling ability and is dangerous one on one. His defensive game needs to be more consistent.

With they’re third and final second round draft pick, The Detroit Red Wings selected a prospects I am very high on. Going defense for the third time in the first four draft picks, Detroit picked Albert Johansson.

Albert Johansson is shorter than both Moritz Seider and Antti Tuomisto. Johansson stands an even 6′ 0″.  Albert becomes the Detroit Red Wings best skating defensive prospect. Great speed, great acceleration combined with the ability to pivot crisply allows Albert to transition quickly from defense to offense and vice versa.

Johansson has great stickhandling control has has very good vision up the ice. He is very good at avoiding defenders in the offensive end while above average passing sets up teammates very well.

He possesses a nice slap shot but needs to clean up on accuracy. Johansson’s defensive game is stellar. He has great gap-control and is hard to beat one on one. He is very good at poke check and stealing the puck. He also needs to clean up containing opposing forwards.

All and all the Detroit Red Wings had a very solid second round. The defense is in better shape for years to come.

The Detroit Red Wings select Moritz Seider in the first round

Embed from Getty Images Exhale Detroit Red Wings fans. It is going to be okay. No really. First year general manager Steve Yzerman walked up and announced the pick. Many fans and media were caught off guard. But Detroit picked a very good hockey player.

German defensemen Moritz Seider, is big, 6′ 4″. Seider is fast, his first few step acceleration are well above average. He does need to add some weight and build his core.

Moritz Seider is good along the boards. He possesses a very good arsenal of point shots. He picks and chooses his shots. being a big player he generates power behind his shots. That power will increase as he puts on weight.

On defense Moritz Seider plays a very physical game, he looks for the big hit on opposing forwards. There are times he gets himself out of position by seeking the big hit. With development Seider should be able to clean that up. It should be noted, that as good as Moritz Seider projects to be, he will need time in the minors to clean up his defensive game some.

Being that, a prospect with things to work on, Moritz Seider has high-end upside. He could be a boom or bust type player. But given the success Steve Yzerman has had in the NHL drafts, I lean towards boom.

For Detroit Red Wings fans, patience is needed. I believe it will yield high dividends in a short time. Seider’s game is a mix close to Columbus Blue Jackets defensive players Seth Jones and Zach Werenski.

In the end, I am happy with this pick. Yzerman went big. Because he rarely misses Detroit Red Wings fans can relax. Relax and exhale.

The Detroit Pistons draft as yielded solid picks so far

Embed from Getty Images The reason people should steer clear of Mock Drafts was on full display last night. In rounds one and two of the 2019 NBA draft, the Detroit Pistons were “Mocked” by many different outlets and connected to many different players. Then the actual draft got underway and Detroit went against popular choice.

By all accounts the Detroit Pistons were handed a gift. The teams first draft pick was at #15 in the first round. Where the Pistons brass selected Sekou Doumbouya, from Guinea. Many experts did not expect Doumbouya to be on the board when Detroit picked. He was and Detroit struck.

At just 18 years old Sekou Doumbouya has a lot of potential. Above average defense and his offensive game took a massive step forward this past season. Working primarily as a center, Sekou can also play shooting forward. His years of playing soccer in Guinea has helped his agility.

In short this was a solid pick.

 

With the Detroit Pistons second round pick the team selected Lithuanian forward Deividas Sirvydis. He will remain overseas to work on development.

Detroit was not done. The team then traded they’re second first round draft pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers for two future second round draft picks. The Pistons still were not done. Moments before day one of the NBA draft concluded, the team traded one of they’re future second round picks to the Philadelphia 76ers, for point guard Jordan Bone.

Bone, struggled with consistency his first two season for the Tennessee Vols. Then last season he put it all together. Jordan Bone averaged 13 points, 5.8 assists per-game, he also shot 35.5% from 3 point range on 3.8 attemps per-game.

In all the Detroit Pistons were active and improved the team. The picks were not sexy. But, Detroit is building around Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. The key word is building. Detroit added some defensive power with offensive upside.

In all, I give the Detroit Pistons a solid B+ for the first day of the draft.

The Detroit Pistons Ed Stefanski makes a swanky trade

Embed from Getty Images Jon Leuer had fallen out of favor with Detroit Pistons fans. Leuer suffered a foot injury in 2017-18 that limited him to just eight games and he has not been the same since. Leuer’s expiring contract was viewed as an asset, which the Pistons decided to cash in Wednesday.

Wednesday night Ed Stefanski traded Jon Leuer to the Milwaukee Bucks for forward Tony Snell and the 30th pick in the draft. That’s right. Jon Leuer who has not been the same since he was injured. Netted a nice bench player and the Bucks first round draft pick giving Detroit two first round picks.

Tony Snell is set to make $11.4 million next season and has a player option for $12.2 million for 2020-21, the final years of a four-year deal worth $46 million that he signed in the summer of 2017.

Snell’s arrival in Motown fills a big need for veteran wing help, as the Pistons dealt both Reggie Bullock and Stanley Johnson at the trade deadline and finished the season with a three-guard rotation. Snell give Detroit a bigger player off the bench.

Appearing in 74 games this season, Tony Snell, averaged 6 points, 2.1 rebounds, and shot 40%  on 3-pointers, taking about three per game. That is more productio they got from Jon Leuer at $9.5 million.

The question now for the Detroit Pistons and the fan base is does Ed Stefanski package the teams two first round draft picks and move up? Tonight is the NBA’s 2019 draft.

As the Pistons continue to construct the roster to maximize the window of All-Star Blake Griffin, it is possible the Pistons look to move up. the 27 year old Snell  is slightly overpaid, his contract is moveable in case next season does not go well, or Snell simply does not mesh with the rest of the team.

In my opinion Detroit will likely pencil Snell in as the Pistons’ starting small forward on opening night in October. He did play well with Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo. The hope here is he plays just as well with Blake Griffin.

One of the Detroit Red Wings top prospects Jared McIsaac to have shoulder surgery

Embed from Getty Images Jared McIsaac  dealt with a shoulder injury through the second half of the season. Finishing his junior career with the Halifax Mooseheads, McIsaac a  left-handed defensemen ended up with 62 points in 53 regular season games and also played for  Canada at the World Junior tournament.

Jared McIsaac, is a defensive player with very good mobility and with top-notch speed and acceleration in both directions. Drafted last year by the Detroit Red Wings, he fit what the Wings are trying to get to on defense. The team is looking to draft excellent two-way defenders.

Despite the shoulder surgery, McIsaac figures to be part of the Detroit Red Wings long-term plans. Steve Yzerman spoke about him during the press conference to announce he was taking over as the organizations general manager.

McIsaac must get stronger, which is why he was back in the juniors. He will be back with the Mooseheads this season as he is not eligible to play in the AHL right now. It is hard to say if more strength would have prevented the injury.

Jared McIsaac has all the upside and skills necessary to be a top-four defenceman at the NHL level. Something that will aid the Detroit rebuild. The young defensive player is expected to make a full recovery. But it will take time.

McIsaac will  be out for five to six months he will be unable to fight for a spot on the Detroit Red Wings blue line this training camp. The Red Wings have requested Jared has his surgery in Detroit so thery and team doctors can monitor him.

The Red Wings need Jared McIsaac. He projects as a top four defensive player.

The Detroit Red Wings are the “X-factor” in the 2019 NHL draft

Embed from Getty Images They currently sit at #6 in the first round of the NHL draft. Yet, the Detroit Red Wings hold the keys to the entire draft. With five draft picks before the fourth round, Detroit general manager Steve Yzerman can move up or back because unlike the other teams he has the assets to do it.

Last week in a twenty minute media update, Yzerman played coy. It is not like he was going to tip his hand one way or another. Yzerman said he is going to draft talent, not need. Something he did in Tampa Bay which turned out very well for the Lightning.

The top 10 players in this years draft are outstanding unlike the past two NHL drafts.  No matter what he does, Yzerman will make the Red Wings rebuild a little better. There is tremendous talent throughout this years draft. So if he keeps the picks Detroit wins. If he trades the picks Detroit wins.

Steve Yzerman can send a ripple though the league. The top two teams are not trading they’re picks. So the draft truly starts with the third pick. If Yzerman makes a move teams will have to recheck they’re draft boards.

In my opinion, Steve Yzerman understands his team and organization is rebuilding. Unless he gets a massive offer he can not refuse, I do not see the Red Wings moving down.

NHL insiders are all saying that all eyes will by “On Yzerman and Detroit.” Given the NHL draft starts Friday night, and Steve Yzerman and his scouting department are deep in meetings to map out draft strategies he knows what he wants to do in this draft.

Knowing what you would like to do and being able to do them are two different things. Because of 3 second round draft picks, Yzerman is able to do what he wants.

It should be interesting to watch it unfold Friday night in Vancouver, British Columbia. The draft starts at 8:00 pm, fans can tune into NBCSN for complete coverage.

Father’s Day 2019

“Dedicate your children to God and point them in the way they should go, and the values they’ve learned from you will be with them for life.” Proverbs 22:6 (The Passion Translation)

Sports season reflect the seasons in our life,

Football season: rough tough, angry

Basketball season: hustle, trying to keep up

Hockey season: focused, team driven

Baseball season: quiet, time slows down

This Father’s Day, reflection has allowed me to take a step back and evaluate where I am as a husband, father, friend and teammate. This season for our family is sort of a cross between football and hockey. Which is sort of a weird mix. Yet, that is where we find ourselves Father’s Day 2019.

We are blessed to have a family member who is struggling to fight an opponent. Not your every day opponent mind you. But a rival, who is without mercy and to this point and as far as I know is undefeated. Dementia.

It is my opinion that it does not matter what you did years ago. In fact it is not what you did in more recent times that define you. It is how you reevaluate and make corrections.

My father, lead by example. He was even keeled, focused and showed me how through various family struggles that you keep going. Keep pushing, keep building relationships and even mend relationships. In other words do whatever you need to put points on the board of life.

A few years ago, I struggled to come to grips with my past. Living decades in the darkness of unforgiveness and being blind to it. Sometimes when we are use to living a certain way, through God’s mercy I no longer carry unforgiveness. It did not happen overnight. It was a choice I had to make. I no longer wanted the weight of not forgiving people to be an anvil around myself and my family. God has broken the chains and I am now free.

In this rough/ tough football season mixed with focused/ team driven hockey season. We strap on our armor and stand and wait for God to move. Do not get me wrong, we will work, we will fight, we will remember we are not alone in our endeavor.

God is giving our family this season to galvanize us as a unit. That is the blessing. That is Father’s Day 2019.

With NBA credentials in hand, Michigan Wolverine’s Juwan Howard can make a big impact with recruits

Embed from Getty Images It has been three weeks since former Fab Five member took over as the head basketball coach at the University of Michigan.  Thursday, Juwan Howard made his first stop on the recruiting trail. the top 100 players gathered at the National Basketball Players Association Camp.

It was not an has not been lost on the collection of the 100 best players. When the former Michigan star turned NBA star, turned NBA assistant coach, turned Michigan Wolverines head coach. Players stopped, looked whispered and exchanged glances when Howard walked through the door.

Juwan Howard has won at every level he has played at. The current high school players know of Howards accolades. Juwan Howard was a McDonalds All-American in high school, two-time All-American at Michigan, two time NBA champion. That speaks louder to players than Howard’s voice ever could.

It is also not lost on potential recruits that Juwan played with Lebron James and Dwyane Wade. He lived with Michael Jordan for a summer. Oh and when Juwan Howard announced he was going to attend Michigan and play hoops for the school, he recruited the rest of the players that would make up the Fab Five.

It is his relationships with NBA players that gives Howard a leg up. Recently Lebron James (a HUGE Ohio State fan) son said he is seriously considering going to Michigan with his dad’s approval. Dwayne Wade’s son has said the same thing.

While it is still early in the recruiting process, Juwan Howard has already talked to and gotten verbal commitments from a few big time recruits. As soon as he was announced to be the Wolverines basketball coach, Juwan Howard had already won the recruiting battle in the Big Ten. The other schools simply can not match what Howard brings to players and recruits.

Michigan is even passing Michigan State who had a longtime leg up in recruiting. For the other schools the struggle has gotten more daunting. For Juwan Howard, he is just getting started.