If the name Vilardi rings a bell to hockey followers, don't worry about loading up Google. Yes, Gabriel (Gabe) Vilardi is the younger brother of Plymouth Whalers centre Franceso (Frankie) Vilardi. We have grown accustomed to using brotherly comparisons for highly touted sets of siblings but while both of these players have been extremely successful to date, their styles of play could not be more different.
Unlike Frankie, who checks in around 5-foot-11, Gabe has far more natural size at 6-foot-1 and will continue to fill out a projectable frame over time. Vilardi quickly emerged as one of the top players in the province during the Bantam season where he led his Greater Kingston squad in scoring with 19 goals and 38 points in only 23 regular season games in the OMHA's ETA loop. Vilardi also saw extended time with the Minor Midget team as an affiliate player where he scored at a point-per-game clip with 10 points in eight games.
But the road for Vilardi in Kingston's minor hockey program may end there. Whispers from many indicate that the family is looking at other alternatives for the 2014-15 season and speculation has run rampant. It remains to be seen as to where Vilardi ultimately winds up in Minor Midget, but there's no doubting his ability.
If everything pans out, Vilardi has the ability to be one of the first forwards off the board in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection. He has seen extended time playing down the middle but he may project better on the wing in a similar manner to the transition Oshawa Generals' forward Michael Dal Colle made from Minor Midget to the OHL. Vilardi is an excellent possession forward who can create time and space with deceptive skating, deft stick-handling, and the ability to shield contact with his body.
He's an all around offensive force but Vilardi ultimately will likely develop into more of a playmaker than a scorer, not to underrate his goal scoring ability. His offensive zone vision is very advanced at his age group and he shows a consistent ability to make plays that few of his peers are capable of making.
One area to monitor with Vilardi will be with regards to his skating. Vilardi's stride is a bit cumbersome and there's some considerable room for improvement. His all-around talent will ensure that his skating won't hold him back, but any improvement in that area could take his game to another level.
We still don't know where Gabe Vilardi will end up this fall, but we do know he's going to be worth seeing wherever he eventually does.
|1. C Sam Reinhart||Kootenay Ice|
|2. D Aaron Ekblad||Barrie Colts|
|3. C Michael Dal Colle||Oshawa Generals|
|4. C Leon Draisaitl||Prince Albert Raiders|
|5. C William Nylander||Rogle|
|6. LW Nick Ritchie||Peterborough Petes|
|7. D Haydn Fleury||Red Deer Rebels|
|8. D Roland McKeown||Kingston Frontenacs|
|9. LW Sam Bennett||Kingston Frontenacs|
|10. C Jared McCann||Soo Greyhounds|