It’s an exciting time to be a fan of the Drummondville Voltigeurs.
Not only has the club led by Canadian National Junior Team head coach Dominique Ducharme wrapped up the first half of the season tied for third in the QMJHL with a 22-11-1-1 record, the Volts have gone out and acquired one of the league’s most exciting young talents.
The league’s first ever exceptional status player and already a QMJHL champion at the age of 17, Joe Veleno joins the Voltigeurs following a trade with the Saint John Sea Dogs, bolstering a potent offence in Drummondville.
“We all know his great potential,” said Voltigeurs head coach Ducharme who had a chance to coach Veleno on Team QMJHL at the 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series. “He is a born competitor and a good person outside the rink. He has speed, agility, offensive skills and is responsible defensively.”
Already tied for the QMJHL lead in goals with 133, the Voltigeurs have excelled at even strength as they hope Veleno can give a boost to their 16th ranked power play unit.
Now in his third season, Veleno had six goals, 25 assists and 31 point in as many games with a rebuilding Sea Dogs club following their title run last spring.
“Joe does not come here as saviour. Our team is not in trouble,” Ducharme continued to Jonathan Habashi of L’Express Newspaper. “On the contrary, we’re having a good season. We have good young players developing here. He fits perfectly in this group. It’s a good situation, both for him and for us.”
In front of one of the CHL’s most promising young netminders in Olivier Rodrigue, the Voltigeurs have received strong contributions from 17-year-old former first round QMJHL pick Cedric Desruisseaux (14-14–28) along with a pair of 18-year-olds in centreman Nicolas Guay (12-19–31) and high-scoring defenceman Nicolas Beaudin (8-24–32). Additionally, Nashville Predators prospect Pavel Koltygin leads the club with a plus-20 plus/minus rating while registering 27 points (9-18–27) over 35 games.
The future is bright in Drummondville as Veleno joins a roster also consisting of three different first round picks from the 2017 QMJHL Draft. Selected eighth and ninth overall respectively, Dawson Mercer (8-8–16) and Xavier Simoneau (8-14–22) have both taken positive steps this season after competing at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. Defenceman Thomas Pelletier, the 19th overall pick from last year’s draft, has six points (1-5–6) in 22 games along with a plus-8 rating.
With such a young lineup it remains to be seen if the Voltigeurs will finish as a top contender this season, but with the 2000-born Veleno joining the depth chart they’re also set up nicely for next year.
“We are young, but our players aren’t intimidated by our opponents,” Ducharme added. “They learn quickly. In the second half of the season, we will continue to fight and progress.
“Our goal is not just to get the best position in the standings. Our first priority is to continue to build our game. Once it is playoff time we will be a difficult team to face. Once we’re there, anything can happen.”
Veleno is expected to make his Voltigeurs debut on December 28th in Gatineau before suiting up for the home fans two nights later against the Chicoutimi Sagueneens.
OTHER CHL TOP-10 SPOTLIGHT FEATURES:
Sept. 28, 2017 – Regina Pats
Oct. 5, 2017 – Victoriaville Tigres
Oct. 11, 2017 – Victoria Royals
Oct. 18, 2017 – Sarnia Sting
Oct. 25, 2017 – Swift Current Broncos
Nov. 1, 2017 – Blainville-Boisbriand Armada
Nov. 8, 2017 – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Nov. 15, 2017 – Moose Jaw Warriors
Nov. 22, 2017 – Quebec Remparts
Nov. 29, 2017 – Hamilton Bulldogs
Dec. 6, 2017 – Brandon Wheat Kings
Dec. 12, 2017 – Rimouski Oceanic