2016-17 Team: Windsor Spitfires (#13)
Date of Birth: August 16, 1999
Place of Birth: Kingston, Ontario
Ht: 6’2” Wt: 192 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2017 first-year eligible
- THW Alternate Rankings: 6th (January)
- Future Considerations: 3rd (Spring)
- ISS: 3rd (April)
- McKeen’s Hockey: 5th (February)
- Bob McKenzie: 4th (Mid-season)
- Craig Button: 4th (March)
- Jeff Marek: 5th (March)
Like his fellow Windsor Spitfires teammate, Michael DiPietro, Gabe Vilardi may have secured his position in the first round of this year’s NHL Entry Draft with his play this season. On top of that, while his club couldn’t get out of the first round of the OHL playoffs, he did put his skills on full display against the London Knights in their seven-game series.
In his second full season with the Spitfires Vilardi notched 29 goals and 61 points in just 49 games. He added six points in seven games in the playoffs and was a physical force against a smaller London team.
In his OHL career, he’s averaged 0.89 points per game in 111 regular season games. For being a physical player, his 26 career penalty minutes is a prime example of how Vilardi can stay within the rules of the game while chipping away at the opposing players.
He will beef up as he gets older, but for now, the 17-year-old can be an impact player on the offensive end as he has the ability to get into tight spaces and create opportunities out of nothing.
NHL Draft Projection
The top five picks are pretty much set in stone when it comes to this year’s draft, but Vilardi has been projected to go anywhere between third and fifth. Chances are he won’t fall, it’s just a matter of what teams are looking for in that early range of picks.
“Vilardi is a big center with excellent hockey sense and a powerful ripper of a shot. His skating needs to improve, but scouts aren’t too worried. One noted that he’s already better than Mark Stone at the same age…” – Ryan Kennedy, The Hockey News
“He’s very composed with the puck, and uses his vision and playmaking ability to influence the game in all three zones. He excels below the dots in the offensive zone where he uses his size and reach to dictate the play and generate scoring opportunities.” – Matt Ryan, NHL Central Scouting
- Reach and stick-handling in tight
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Growth and size
Vilardi projects to be a top-six forward. If he can fill out physically and learn to play more of a power forward type of role, he can be a force up front for any team that drafts him. He plays a similar game to current players like Mark Stone, but has the ability to showcase more offensive prowess than the Senators’ forward.
Risk – 2/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 8/10, Defence – 7/10
While his list of awards and achievements might not be the longest so far, Vilardi’s play on the ice will eventually speak for itself. That being said, he was named to the OHL’s Second All-Rookie Team in 2015-16 and won a gold medal as part of the Canada White team at the under-17 World Hockey Championships.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.