Listed at 6-foot-5, 218 pounds, there aren't too many bigger bodies in the Penguins organization than forward Keven Veilleux. And it's doubtful anyone in the franchise has had a rougher time with regards to injuries the past several seasons.
After being drafted in the second round by the Penguins in 2007, injuries - primarily a left shoulder which required surgery - limited Veillieux to a total of 57 games in the three ensuing seasons with Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Last season, Veilleux rebounded by appearing in 66 games for the AHL Penguins and contributed 36 points (12 goals, 24 assists), 122 penalty minutes and engaged in 12 fights while taking on a variety of roles. He also appeared in 11 postseason games for the AHL Penguins and scored four points (two goals, two assists).
Yesterday, he talked about his rebound season and the importance of confidence.
How do you assess your 2010-11 season?
"The start of the year was hard because the (previous) two years I only played like 35 games. Last year, the start of the year was hard. The game pace, the speed of the game. The first month was hard. But after a bit, I started to play well. I gained confidence. And with all the call-ups last year, I was playing on the power play. I got my chances and I think I took it. I stepped up for my teammates. I got some points and I think it was a good year for me."
Did you have have issues with confidence regarding your shoulder?
"It’s hard to say. For sure you’re nervous a little bit. How your shoulder is going to react. I tried to focus on my physical play. I think I gained confidence. If you don’t have confidence, you can’t play hockey."
Did you benefit by taking on different roles last season?
"I’m a better player than before because I know I can do certain things. It doesn’t matter if it’s physical play, a fight, (scoring), shoot out. I’m a better overall player."
What are you goals for the 2011-12 season?
"For sure I want to play here (NHL). If I go back in the AHL, I want to be a dominant player."
What part of your game do you need to work on?
"I want to be better there in the defensive zone and be stronger one on one."
(Photo: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins)