Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2020 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Eemil Viro.
Finnish defenceman Eemil Viro graduated to the SM Liiga, Finland’s top men’s league this season, despite being just 17-years-old. In 29 games with TPS Turku, he put up three assists. Viro also appeared in three games at the Spengler Cup. He also played 15 games with the TPS Under-20 team, scoring one goal and five assists for six points in Finland’s top junior league. Viro played two playoff games, scoring two goals for the Under-20 team before the season was cancelled. He was also an alternate captain. It has been a quick ascent up the ranks. In 2018-19, Viro played four games with the Under-20 team picking up one assist. In 41 games with the Under-18 team, he scored seven goals and 20 points.
Viro has also represented Finland on the international stage. He played three games with Finland at the 2019 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup. In 13 games with the Under-18 Team last year, he had three assists. He also represented Finland at the 2018 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, appearing in six games and helping the team to the silver medal. He put up two assists in three games at the 2018 European Youth (U-17) Olympics, helping the Finnish team to a Bronze medal.
Eemil Viro Scouting Report
Defense — shoots Left
Born April 3rd, 2002 — Vantaa, Finland
Height 6’0″ — Weight 165 lbs [183 cm / 75 kg]
Viro is an excellent skater. He has very good speed in both directions. His first step and acceleration are also excellent. The ability to get around the ice quickly helps Viro to play a two-way game. He can join the rush or pinch in at the blue line and still get back defensively. Viro also has outstanding edgework and agility. His lateral mobility is very good, helping him to maintain good gap control and keep attackers in front of him. It can also be used to walk the line in the offensive zone. Viro has excellent pivots, allowing him to transition quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. He needs work on his strength though. Added core muscle will help him to maintain balance and be stronger in battles for loose pucks and clearing the front of the net.
Viro’s offensive game is a bit of a work in progress. He has strong puckhandling skills which he pairs with his excellent skating ability to retrieve pucks in the defensive zone and skate them past forecheckers and out of danger. He can also lead the rush through the neutral zone. Viro is a solid passer, able to make passes to start the transition or set up plays in the offensive zone. He doesn’t always make the best decisions though. Sometimes he needs to take the safer and easier play instead of trying to thread the puck through too tight of a window.
Viro can also use some work on his slap shot. It lacks power right now. With added upper body strength it might come, but right now it is not an effective weapon. As a result, Viro is more likely to try and sneak in from the point and let go a wrist shot from the top of the circles. His wrist shot is accurate and he has a decent release. Viro tries to keep his shots low, giving his teammates the opportunity for deflections and rebounds.
Viro uses his skating ability to play a strong defensive game. He maintains good gap control and is tough to beat in one-on-one situations. When playing against the rush, he forces his man to the outside and into poor shooting situations. His quick stick is also able to knock the puck away from an opponent, creating a turnover. Viro gets the puck out of his zone quickly, transitioning effectively to offence. He needs to get stronger though to work along the boards and to be more effective in containing the cycle game and clearing the front of the net.
Projection and Comparison
Viro could develop into a top-four defenceman with time. He will need to add muscle onto his frame, especially before he is able to compete on the smaller North American ice at the pro level. However, with his skating ability and defensive instincts, he could play important minutes if he develops other aspects of his game. His offensive ability is somewhat limited and he may never be a power-play quarterback at the NHL level, however, he may bring some level of puck-moving and offensive ability at five-on-five. His game is reminiscent of Esa Lindell, but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Eemil Viro that are available on youtube.
— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) March 9, 2020
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Eemil Viro Main Photo:
— Ken Vettore (@KenVettore) December 27, 2019