12. New York Islanders – C Joe Veleno
The Islanders are in a position to double up on centers with back-to-back picks. Oliver Wahlstrom has a history of playing a little on the right wings, so the option is there to move him from center. Joe Veleno is the perfect complement to what Wahlstrom is. Veleno plays more of a grinding style to open lanes and set up teammates. Getting out of the first round with two of the top centers in the draft for a team with good centers already is extremely lucky. The addition of these two with Barzal and Tavares if he stays will keep the Islanders strong down the middle of the ice for a long time.
Adding two centers back to back may seem like a strange strategy; however, it is the right one for the Islanders. With Wahlstrom potentially turning into a winger, Veleno provides some security. There is no doubt that Veleno is going to be a center in the NHL. He plays a completely different style than Wahlstrom. He is a reliable, steady and defensively focused center even though he had a lot of points this season. Between two teams he picked up 79 points in 64 games. He is a gifted skater that opens a lot of ice for him to work with.
He reads the play well and can distribute the puck to anyone on the ice at any point. An area he needs to improve on is his positioning. A lot of players in this age braket will allow their skating to over compensate for poor positioning. As the competition gets harder to face the less he will be able to compensate. It is not a major area of concern and that makes Veleno a safe prospect. Worst case he will slot into a third or fourth line center role. His ceiling is likely as a second line center.