Weight: 200 pounds
Date of birth: August 16, 1999
Hometown: Kingston, Ontario
OHL Draft: Round 1, 2nd overall, 2015 Priority Selection
Windsor Spitfires forward Gabriel Vilardi played his Minor Midget AAA hockey for the CIHA Voyageurs during the 2014-2015 season in which he scored 18 goals and 21 assists in 21 games. The CIHA is the Canadian International Hockey Academy, a premier hockey prep school in Eastern Ontario. He was named the Hockey Eastern Ontario (HEO) Player of the Year.
At the OHL Gold Cup, Vilardi appeared in 5 games scoring 4 goals and adding 5 assists. He would win gold at the World Hockey Challenge Under-17 with Team Canada White. In 6 games at the tournament, he scored 4 goals and added 3 assists. Windsor would make Vilardi the second overall pick at the 2015 Ontario Hockey League’s Priority Selection.
Last season, his rookie year with Windsor, Vilardi appeared in 62 games and scored 17 goals while adding 21 assists. He received some quality powerplay time and scored 4 goals while adding 7 assists on the PP. He was named to the OHL Second All-Rookie Team.
Everything pointed to an excellent draft year for Vilardi. But a knee injury he suffered at Team Canada’s camp kept him out of the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and delayed the start of his OHL season. On November 21, 2016, he underwent an emergency appendectomy and would miss the next 5 weeks.
Despite the time missed, Vilardi still managed to put up 29 goals and 32 assists in 49 regular season games and finished among the top ten among draft eligible players in goals, points and faceoff winning percentage. Despite being a natural center, he spent a lot of time on the wing for the Spitfires.
If he isn’t already, Vilardi is the closest draft eligible player in the OHL to being NHL ready. There are issues with his skating, but it isn’t a huge issue that can prevent him from success at the NHL level. Overall and first step speed is lacking, but if he puts in the necessary work, it’s an area that he can certainly improve.
Vilardi’s game is solid in all three zones. He puts the effort required in the defensive zone and puts himself in position to defend. In the neutral zone, he anticipates well and can create turnovers. Despite being above average defensively, his bread and butter comes from offense.
Vilardi’s vision and hockey sense is above average. He’s at his best with the puck on his stick as he can control the play in the o-zone. He has the size and strength to be able to keep control in battles along the wall or down low. And he has both the playmaking abilities to set up teammates or to score on his own. Simply, he makes everyone around him better.
The question that pops up most regarding Vilardi is: Is his game better suited for wing or center? There is no question he has the size, playmaking skills, vision and smarts to be a center in the NHL. If he can improve his foot speed, he’ll be successful at the position. I wouldn’t bet against him at any position.
Vilardi represented Canada at the Canada/Russia Super Series and participated at the Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game
On NHL Central scouting’s mid-term rankings, Vilardi was ranked third among North American Skaters. On Bob McKenzie’s mid-term rankings, Vilardi was ranked 4th overall.
This is the profile page of Gabriel Vilardi at Elite Prospects