Yannick Veilleux will be sticking around in Laval for a while longer as the club announced on Thursday that the winger has signed a one-year contract extension for the 2020-21 season.
This season didn’t get off to a great start for the 27-year-old. Unable to land an AHL contract, he was forced to settle for an ECHL deal with Kalamazoo. However, when the Rocket were hit with a rash of injuries and recalls, they turned to Veilleux, likely in part due to his familiarity with some of the players having spent two seasons in Montreal’s system in the past (one with St. John’s and one with Laval). As far as reasonable depth signings go, it made sense and on a PTO, it was a no-risk move.
But what happened next came out of nowhere. Instead of being a fourth liner that’s in and out of the lineup, Veilleux started scoring with regularity and quickly became an integral part of the team. He was able to parlay that into a guaranteed deal for the rest of the season where he kept on producing. In the end, he wound up with 12 goals and 8 assists in just 26 games. To put that in perspective, Veilleux had just 9 goals in 105 games combined with Montreal’s affiliates in 2016-17 and 2017-18.
While a repeat performance isn’t likely (a 24% shooting percentage stands out as a red flag), Veilleux should still be a useful piece for the Rocket next season as even if the scoring dips, he has been an effective role player in the past. He does qualify for veteran status which could be an issue depending on which veterans the Habs look to bring back on two-way deals and if they add any in free agency; if they wind up with too many, Veilleux could be the odd one out some nights (he was in that situation this year). However, after needing to wait until the beginning of ECHL training camp back in October to get a deal, he has gotten himself a much better contract for next season much earlier.