The NY Islanders select defenseman Xavier Veilleux 179th in the 2024 NHL Draft

2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7
2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The NY Islanders selected their second defenseman of the day, this time taking Xavier Veilleux of the Muskegon Lumberjacks 179th overall.

With Jesse Pulkkinen taken in the second round, the Isles this time elected to take a more offensive-minded blueliner.

Turning 18 just over a month ago, Veilleux put up 32 points (3 G, 29 A) in 62 games with Muskegon. A former first-round pick in the QMJHL, Veilleux was named to the USHL's all-rookie team after leading all rookies in defensive scoring. He is committed to playing college hockey at Harvard University.

Veilleux's skating is not what you'd hope it be, but his hands typically make up for struggles on his edges. If he was a better skater, there's a good chance he'd have been selected higher, but here we are.

"Defensively, the skating occasionally costs him, but he's so much better at managing speed and blending physicality with risk-mitigating defensive skating to kill plays," says Elite Prospects Director of North American Scouting Mitch Brown in their Prospect Report (paid subscription). "He takes away space, then goes for the hands and follows through. He's getting clean stops now. With a bit more patience on the breakout, he could turn these into fast-break offense, as right now he tends to instantly throw the puck away."

It's unclear whether Veilleux will take his talents to Harvard next season or remain in the USHL. Being that he only recently turned 18, it may be better for his development to spend another season in Muskegon playing against opposition his age, rather than joining the NCAA where he'll be matched up with players 5-6 years older.

Raw in just about every sense, Veilleux is worth a 6th-round selection, even though some mock drafts have him going in the fifth round. He may be a long shot to play in the NHL, but if he does it's likely as a bottom-pair defenseman.