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Road to the NHL Draft: C Gabriel Vilardi

Gabriel Vilardi

Position: Center

Junior team: Windsor (OHL)

2016-17 stats: 49 games, 29 goals, 32 assists, 61 points

Size: 6-foot-3, 201 pounds

Born: Kingston, Ont.

Central Scouting rank: No. 4 (North America)

What to know: Vilardi grew up watching and admiring former Sabres captain Daniel Briere. They’re very different, however. While Briere was a diminutive center, Vilardi has the makings of a power forward.

Vilardi can play down low and performs well in traffic, leading the Spitfires in goals. He knows how to use his size and reach against defenders. While he’s good at rebounds and redirects, he has a powerful shot from open ice.

Birth-year cutoffs are September, so Vilardi, born in August, has always been up to 11 months younger than his counterparts. As a result, he lacks the international competition of most peers. He needs to work hard to overcome a lack of speed.

They said it: “A high-end possession center with excellent hockey sense and puck-handling ability. He plays a very composed game with the puck, using his vision and playmaking ability to influence the game in all three zones. Vilardi excels below the dots in the offensive zone, where he utilizes his size and reach to control the play and generate scoring opportunities.” – Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting.

The Buffalo News is profiling prospects leading up to the NHL Draft, which will be held June 23-24 in Chicago.

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