Gabe Vilardi was once a big time prospect. He came upon the scene while with the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL, and teams began to notice his play rather quickly.
He had size, scoring touch and a bit of grit, all of the ingredients for a player in pro hockey to be successful. He did not go unnoticed in the NHL draft, being selected by the Los Angeles Kings 11th overall in the first round of the 2017 draft.
Being drafted that high put Vilardi on notice that there were high expectations but the Kings were going to be patient with him. His progress has been delayed rather frequently because of back issues. In fact he will not participate in this year’s World Juniors tournament because of the ongoing, nagging issue. The 6-3, 203 pounder is still hopeful to turn around his bad luck with injuries and show the Kings he was worthy of the 11th pick overall. He has played with the AHL Ontario Reign, although sparingly because of injuries..
He is still young. He still possesses the skills to be a top 6 forward, but if these injuries keep hampering his progress he may have to make a decision he does not want to make during his young, bright career. The Kings knw they have a prized piece and very good prospect in Vilardi but how long do they wait for him? They want to be patient and give him a chance he deserves. The Kings know he has talent. They know they will have a spot for him when he is ready.
However, the question is when will he be ready to make that jump to the Kings and be fully healthy to contribute like he knows he can?
Feautred Image: NHL.com