The Detroit Red Wings have decided that minor league forward Joe Veleno will be allowed to play for Team Canada at the upcoming World Junior tournament. Hockey Canada announced that Veleno will join the team in the Czech Republic for the preparation camp later this month. The rest of the roster will be determined at a selection camp that opens today in Oakville, Ontario.
Veleno’s addition should make a real difference on a Canadian team that might not be considered the favorites this time around. Though there is obviously a ton of talent on the squad, including speculative 2020 first-overall pick and reigning CHL Player of the Year Alexis Lafreniere, questions remain about the group’s depth on defense and in net.
The Red Wings prospect obviously can’t help those positions directly, but his excellent two-way play and experience should raise the Canadians to another level. Not only did Veleno play on last year’s edition of the squad, he now has 25 games of AHL experience despite being just 19.
Being the first QMJHL player granted exceptional status, Veleno already had four full years of CHL experience under his belt when this season started and thus was eligible to play in the AHL before his 20th birthday. While he only has nine points in those 25 games, there is no doubt he is developing at a quicker rate than if he had returned to junior hockey.