Poised centerman with a lethal release. His timing and footspeed will need to improve before he makes an efficient transition to the NHL but his toolbox is full of the makings of a typical middle-6 NHL pivot.
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May 2022 – After being sent to the AHL after a lackluster start to the season, Vilardi racked up 38 points in 39 games. This was good enough for him to earn an opportunity with the Kings while in hot pursuit of a playoff spot. He did not see much more than bottom-six minutes and posted his lowest 82-game point pace of his short career. Once he rounds his game out at both ends of the ice, the young forward still has a lot of runway to turn into an effective two-way middle-six player. Given the depth at center in the Kings organization, that opportunity might have to come with another team if he cannot solidify a spot on the roster. Sean Crocker
April 2021 – Vilardi has been able to solidify his spot in the King’s top-six forward group for most of this season. While he has seen some time down in the lineup and a variety of different wingers on his lines he has managed to remain healthy which is probably the most important thing considering his injury history. He has only been able to muster up 15 points in 46 games which is somewhat underwhelming considering how hot he was at the end of last season. He should continue to see a lot of opportunity through the final month of the season and has also been elevated from his role on the second powerplay unit into the team’s top unit which should help his production. The center depth in the organization could pose a problem for Vilardi’s role heading into next season so he will need to prove he can succeed in his current role to ensure he isn’t demoted in the lineup come the 2021-22 season. Julian Mongillo
February 2020 – After compiling 25 points in 32 games in the AHL since returning to action, and a trade that saw Toffoli become a member of the Vancouver Canucks; Vilardi was recalled by the Kings and made his long-awaited NHL debut. The 21-year-old made his debut at the Staples Center and wasted no time tallying his first NHL point, potting the games opening goal. He was featured as the team’s second-line center and saw time on the team’s second power-play unit. Vilardi added an assist on the Kings’ fourth goal of the game and even dominated in the face-off circle winning 80 percent of his draws. The arrow is pointing straight up for the young center, with plenty of minutes and opportunity set to become available after the trade deadline passes. If you’re in a keeper or dynasty fantasy league make sure he’s not still floating around on your waiver wire. Julian Mongillo
January 2020 – After a long recovery from ongoing back injuries, Vilardi has made his long-awaited return to the ice and was assigned to the Ontario Reign in November. He has since tallied 11 points in his first 17 games played this season. Even after such a long layoff, Vilardi is showing why he was selected 11th overall back in 2017 and at 20 years of age he still has lots of promise. There is no doubt Vilardi can be a difference maker on the ice, and barring any more injuries has a chance to get a call-up to the Kings sometime this season. He should be on all dynasty league radars. Julian Mongillo
December 2018 – Vilardi was selected to attend training camp for Team Canada at the 2019 World Juniors despite him still recovering from a back injury that has prevented him from starting the hockey season. He was projected to take on a large role on the team especially with the likes of Alex Formenton already being ruled out of the tournament. He was going to play in the top six likely slotting in as the second line right wing. He had been skating and working out with the team without playing in any of Canada’s three exhibition games against the University All-Stars. Leading up to the start of Canada’s preseason opener, he visited medical professionals off site on December 18th to determine his status, and news broke one day later that he would be ruled out of this year’s tournament.
Vilardi will continue to work to nurse his ailments to hopefully return to full form and be able to make his way into the Los Angeles Kings lineup eventually. Vilardi, when healthy, could have a significant impact on a Kings roster waiting for an injection of skilled youth, but in the meantime he will have to stay health for the remained of the season in the CHL (likely in Kingston). Julian Mongillo
November 2018— Vilardi has not had the start to the season he or the team had hoped for. In September, it was reported that Vilardi was expected to make the Los Angeles Kings out of training camp. However, his season debut was derailed by his seemingly chronic back issue, which also held him out of rookie camp and most of training camp. Vilardi returned to practice with the Kings at the end of October in a limited, no-contact capacity but suffered a minor setback in early November unrelated to his back. Whether he will be ready to compete for a spot on Canada’s World Junior Championships team is uncertain. Hannah Stuart
June 2018 –After missing time with back spasms in 2017-18, the kind of injury you don’t necessarily look forward to getting at 17 years old, Vilardi somehow had to prove that he wasn’t the fragile type of player and he’s halfway there. Coming back for the second half of the OHL regular season, the 18-year-old center showed how much of an offensive star he can quickly become in the NHL. Vilardi racked up 58 points in only 32 games in the regular season and adding another 22 points in 21 playoffs games for the Kingston Frontenacs. While his tendency of getting injured is still a bit of a concern (81 games played over two OHL seasons), his talent is clearly undisputed. Being selected 11th overall in 2017 was a bit of a surprise as he was viewed more as a top 10 and even top five overall pick candidate. His skating will need some more work, but his shot release and his vision on the ice are beyond where they need to be at that age. Seen as a two-way forward by many, his defensive skills must be at a very high level to match the threat he has offensively. 2018-19 brings a whole lot of promises to Vilardi and the Kings as the muscled-up center seems ready to make the big step and play a key role in the top six right away. Even owners in shallower leagues should take a serious look at him entering this year’s fantasy season drafts. Cal Sinclair
September 2017 – It has been a big year for the Spitfire turned King after being drafted 11th overall by the Los Angeles Kings, shortly after a Memorial Cup victory. Vilardi led the Spitfires in the regular season scoring with 0.89 points per game, and was second in team scoring in the memorial cup with 7 assists and 5 shots on goal in 4 games. Gabriel was invited to Canada’s 2017-18 World Junior development camp and the Kings prospect camp but was unable to attend on-ice sessions due to injury that the Kings deemed a minor issue. Jamie Barber
February 2017- After missing time to injury at the start of the season Vilardi returned strong and had a solid Top Prospects game. With Windsor, he will have a chance to showcase his skills in a playoff run and a Memorial Cup tournament. Vilardi is a big, versatile forward that can play the middle or the wing. His skating is average but not a liability and his strength is down low in the offensive zone where he uses his strength and vision to create plays and drive possession. Vilardi plays a strong two-way game, has a high hockey IQ, strong work ethic and is a complete package. Peter Harling