#14 Prospect: Chris VandeVelde

Winter 2009: #4
Summer 2010: #5

Winter 2010: #14

Chris Vande Velde took a tumble down the top 20 list this winter. It’s happened before (Alex Plante), and with Vande Velde it has to do with adjustment to the pro’s and how much offense he’ll bring with him. It also has to do with Vande Velde’s unique qualities (size, skill, grit) being duplicated all over Stu MacGregor’s drafts and the depth of this year’s list. Having said that, Chris Vande Velde does have some unique qualities.

I don’t have much pre-draft on Vande Velde:

  • Redline report: He has an incredibly long reach and is uncanny playing in traffic. When he got his skating legs going, he was nearly impossible to push off the puck, in an almost Keith Primeau–like fashion. Like Oshie, North Dakota has VandeVelde slated for the fall of 2006, and until then, he’ll skate for the Lincoln Stars.

Vande Velde is outstanding in the faceoff circle. He was well over 50% for most of his time in the NCAA and he was a go-to guy at UND. Desjardins NHLE’s suggested he was going to have enough offensive to be considered for a skill line once in the show:

  • 06-07 (Age 19) 82gp, 2-4-6 (.073)
  • 07-08 (Age 20) 82gp, 12-13-25 (.305)
  • 08-09 (Age 21) 82gp, 14-13-27 (.329)
  • 09-10 (Age 22) 82gp, 13-21-34 (.415)

Riley Nash at 20 (13-26-39) and Shawn Horcoff at 20 (9-33-42) had strong NHLE’s than VV, but he stayed longer in college and the offense finally came. Added to his secondary skills, a 35-point Vande Velde could be a useful NHL player.

The Copper and Blue boys are doing fine work over here. The link takes you to an early season glance at AHL qualcomp. Vande Velde looks like he’s facing mid-to-low level competition with linemates outside the top 6F’s at that point in the season. Based on reports elsewhere, VV seems to be on a checking line.

Earlier in this series, I mentioned the Bubbling Under men who were in Winnipeg for a road trip to see the OKC Barons. This was their take on Vande Velde:

  • Chris VandeVelde was pegged as the de-facto checking center tonight, and was given the linemates befitting a player that the coaching staff wants in a defined role. He was able to saw-off the Moose top line of Hodgson-Volpatti-Shirokov with a little help from his friends. He showed good hustle, average speed and good skills in the faceoff dot. Although he appeared to defer to Milan Kytnar once in the third period when both young centers were on the ice together (a draw that Kytnar did win). Wasn’t shy in throwing his weight around in the corners either. Was the last Barons shooter in the SO and wasn’t able to impress, attempting to out-deke Lack only to run out of both time and space rather quickly. Wasn’t a good effort, especially with Reddox and Moran left on the bench.

Vande Velde had a strong training camp, and I thought he played well enough that a return ticket this season for a cup of coffee was possible. However, he’s not scoring at even strength. VV does have a PP goal and a shorty, but his EV numbers don’t stand out even among the checkers:

  • Ben Ondrus 26gp, 3-3-6 -6
  • Matt Marquardt 16gp, 2-3-5 -3
  • Chris Vande Velde 25gp, 2-3-5 -7
  • Milan Kytnar 24gp, 1-3-4 -6
  • Greg Stewart 21gp, 2-1-3 -3

Kytnar is 2 years younger than Vande Velde. I understand it’s a transition, but Riley Nash (26gp, 5-7-12 at EVs) started very slowly too. Vande Velde is older than most rookie AHL players; although he isn’t expected to impact the scoring sheet, I think more was expected. Among AHL rookies, Jeff Petry (4-11-15) ranks 15th; Teemu Hartikainen ranks 33rd (7-4-11); Vande Velde is tied for 72nd. He may be another Colin McDonald (not enough offense).

Vande Velde might benefit if the Oilers recall Ryan O’Marra. The top 4 C’s (from what I can tell) are O’Marra, Moran, Vande Velde and Kytnar. The best wingers (Omark, Giroux, Reddox, McDonald) are in the top 6. VV did fill in with Reddox and Omark for a few games when O’Marra was hurt, an extended period in the spotlight might help him.

Otherwise, he’s another tweener.

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