Tommy Vannelli
Image: Chapin Landvogt/HF

Tommy Vannelli


Minnetonka Minnesota

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2nd round (47th overall), 2013


180 lbs.

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2009-10: Tommy Vannelli played in 27 games as a ninth grader at Holy Family Catholic High School in Minnesota. He scored 2 goals with 8 assists and had 16 penalty minutes.

2010-11: Vannelli skated for the junior varsity team at Minnetonka High School after transferring from Holy Family Catholic for his sophomore year.

2011-12: Vannelli was the leading scorer amongst defensemen for Minnetonka as a junior and open the eyes of scouts with his play at the USA Hockey Select 17 Festival in June. He scored 7 goals with 18 assists in 28 games and was plus-21 with 8 penalty minutes. The Skippers finished first in the Lake Conference and reached the Section 6AA championship game against eventual AA state champion Benilde-St. Margaret’s. Vannelli was selected by the Tri-City Storm in the 16th round (230th overall) of the 2012 USHL Entry Draft.

2012-13: Vannelli skated for the USA in the 2012 U18 Ivan Hlinka Tournament in August and played for Team Northwest in the Upper Midwest Elite League before returning to Minnetonka for his senior season. Vannelli was the only player not in the National Team Development Program to skate for the USA at the 2013 U18 World Junior Championship. He scored 10 goals with 25 assists in 27 high school games for the Skippers and was plus-23 with 14 penalty minutes. Minnetonka lost in the Section 6AA semifinals. Vannelli skated in 11 USHL games with the NTDP team and was plus-7 with 1 goal and 1 assist. He scored 2 goals with 1 assist and was an even plus/minus in seven games at the WJC tournament in Sochi as the USA won a bronze medal. In December he committed to playing college hockey at the University of Minnesota. Vannelli was ranked 44th in the Central Scouting  final rankings (after being 77th in mid-season) and was selected by St. Louis in the second round (47th overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft.
 2013-14: Vannelli joined the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers at the end of September rather than playing college hockey at Minnesota, In 60 regular season games with the Tigers he scored 14 goals with 27 assists and was +4 with 34 penalty minutes. Nine of his 14 goals were scored on the power play. Medicine Hat finished third in the Central Division and reached the Eastern Conference finals against eventual Memorial Cup champion Edmonton. Vannelli scored 2 goals with 6 assists and was minus-7 with 10 penalty minutes in 18 playoff games. He signed a three-year entry-level contract with St. Louis in March 2014. 

2014-15: Vannelli attended training camp with the Blues before returning to Medicine Hat for his second WHL season. One of 15 players released from USA Hockey’s Lake Placid Evaluation Camp in August, he was the third-leading scorer for the Tigers before suffering an upper-body injury in January. In 44 regular season games he scored 12 goals with 23 assists and was +19 with 52 penalty minutes. Medicine Hat finished second to Calgary in the Central Division and reached the second round in the playoffs. After returning late in the year Vannelli skated in all 10 playoff games. He had an even plus/minus with 4 assists and 2 penalty minutes. 

2015-16: Tommy Vannelli skated in seven games for St. Louis AHL affiliate Chicago in his first pro season — missing most of the year after suffering an injury. He had 1 assist and was +4 with 8 penalty minutes with the Wolves.  

Talent Analysis

Vannelli is a gifted offensive defenseman with great puck skills and passing ability. A tall player he must continue to fill into his frame and add strength to be successful in the pros. He will continue to hone his skills and become a more complete player in the WHL.


Vannelli will look to get his career back on track after missing most of the 2015-16 due to injury. He skated in seven games with the AHL's Chicago Wolves before missing the rest of the season. Vannelli's offensive game and willingness to attack are the strength of his game. To do so at the professional level — and to remain healthy — he must add some strength and bulk. His skill set suggests he can be an offensive defenseman with the reach and skating ability to be adequate in his own end.

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