2019-20 Team: TPS
Date of Birth: April 3, 2002
Place of Birth: Vantaa, Finland
Ht: 6-foot Wt: 168 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2020 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 15th (Among EU skaters)
- Bob McKenzie, TSN: 52nd
- HockeyProspect.com: 23rd
- Future Considerations: 72nd
- The Hockey Writers (Bell): 51st
- The Hockey Writers (Fisher): 54th
- The Hockey Writers (Forbes): 58th
Eemil Viro will be one of the names I’ll be watching very closely on draft day. The Finnish defenceman has a ton of raw ability that just needs to be encouraged and helped along as he puts on size and muscle. At 6-feet, 168 pounds, Viro is definitely in need of putting some weight on if he is to make it in the NHL.
That being said, in 2019-20 he spent the majority of his time playing in the top league in Finland, the Liiga with TPS. He spent 29 games there, collecting three assists. He also spent 15 games with the U20 club, where he was an alternate captain and potted one goal to go along with five assists.
Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide
Viro was also a member of Team Finland just before the start of the season in the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and the Five Nations U18 tournament in November. He didn’t exactly rack up the points in these tournaments, but he was a consistent presence on the back end which will likely see Finland continue to use him moving forward.
Viro’s biggest strength is likely his skating. He has a powerful stride and uses that to rush the puck up the ice when there isn’t a pass available. If a pass is available, he shows off a hard, accurate pass that can lead to a breakout from his own zone.
While he’s not a physical defender, he uses an active stick to knock the puck off his opponent’s and often beats the opposition in races to the puck. He can get caught out of position in his own end at times, but that’s something that can be fixed in his game.
With Viro already playing in a men’s league and holding his own, the question of whether or not he can handle himself against men in the NHL is still justified. The NHL is a much more physical league and the left-hand shot will likely need to bulk up a bit in order to succeed.
The defenseman is one of the top to come out of Finland in this draft class, right up there with Topi Niemalä. Viro will need to be a patient project for the team that drafts him, but the chance for him to reach his potential should be intriguing enough for NHL teams to see him go at the latest in the third round.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Eemil Viro – NHL Draft Projection
Viro will be an interesting name to watch on draft day. I think he has the skill and ability to be a top-four defender in the NHL one day, but it will take some time, likely longer than some of the other defenders in the first two rounds. Look for him to hear his name called late in the second round or early in the third unless a team wants to take a chance on his upside earlier.
“Viro is an average-sized two-way defenseman who doesn’t really have any standout qualities but he’s good at everything. He is a very good skater with edge work and three-step quickness being his biggest strengths in that area. He is also a very smart player who doesn’t usually force plays that aren’t there. He gives very good breakout passes and likes to join the rush. Even though he isn’t a puck-rusher, he can also carry the puck if passing lanes are not available. He can make flashy plays at times but those are not his calling card. Although he is a better player with the puck than without it, Viro is also a pretty good defensive player. He is not big or physical but he utilizes his stick effectively. His positioning still needs improvement but his good hockey sense allows him to improve in that area as well. Like most players his age, he needs to get stronger to win more battles at the pro level.” – Jokke Nevalainen, DobberProspects
“Very active on pinches and always looking to step up or keep plays alive – precision timing and strong backskater to retreat with tight gap – rarely looks intimidated by onrushing speed – handles all kinds of passes cleanly even on his backhand or across his body – Viro will chip and chase to himself – controlled entries and will enter the zone looking for a shot of his own even if of the low-danger variety – not much of a playmaker and his tunnel vision with the puck leads to effective but limited decisions – very sound instincts in the offensive zone and will pounce on loose pucks and take the puck around the net or look for a give and go in the low slot – passes into traffic a lot but when he does the passes usually are hard and not a careless lob to be intercepted for a quick counterattack – wide but powerful stride” – Steve Kounianos, The Draft Analyst
“Viro’s rise is reminiscent of Ville Heinola last year and there are some similarities between the Finnish blueliners. Viro has that same poise with the puck and also possesses legit offensive skill that I had been underrating. Viro is gaining on Topi Niemela (No. 36) in the battle to be my top Finnish defenceman for 2020.” – Larry Fisher, The Hockey Writers
- Defensive Stickwork
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Decision Making
Viro is a fairly raw prospect, but the potential is there. As a sounds two-way defender, if Viro continues to improve, develop, and put on muscle, he could be a top-four defender at the NHL level. This will take some time though, don’t expect him in North America for at least a couple of years.
Risk – 3/5, Reward – 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 7/10, Defence – 6/10
In 2018-19, Viro participated in the European Youth Olympic Winter Festival, collecting a bronze medal for Team Finland. Also that season, he helped Finland to a silver medal in the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. In 2019 he was a member of Team Finland in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, although the Finns did not medal.
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Starting out as an Ottawa Senators contributor for The Hockey Writers, Josh is now an editor and at-large contributor, focusing on prospects, the NHL Draft, hockey history, and breaking news stories.