2020-21 Team: Pelicans (#5)
Date of Birth: April 01, 2003
Place of Birth: Lahti, Finland
Ht: 6-foot Wt: 194 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligibility
At just 17 years of age, Topias Vilen was given the chance to play in Finland’s top league, and he took full advantage of the opportunity. Playing in 35 games during the 2020-21 season, the Lahti native scored three goals and five assists for eight points for his hometown Pelicans.
What made him as valuable as he was this season, however, is his intelligent defensive IQ. He is a reliable presence in the defensive zone and he is able to make the right reads. He is able to see a play before it happens and get into the right position to stop it. He possesses great skating ability as well, being able to stop on a dime and track the opposition while having an unrelenting motor to stop the opposition.
Standing at 6-foot, 194 pounds, Vilen has that perfect blend of size and mobility that teams like in a defenseman. He’s able to use his body to get forecheckers off of the puck while also being able to keep up with some of the faster forwards in the league – he is a prototypical defensive defenseman.
Where he could improve, however, is in his offensive game. He gets clumsy with the puck at times and forces turnovers, so his game on the offensive end needs to be refined. He does possess a sneaky good shot from the point, so it is something that is fixable with development. His offense remains to be a project, but he has the IQ and ability to improve on that end of the ice.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Topias Vilen – NHL Draft Projection:
Vilen projects to land just outside of the top 100 players selected in this year’s draft, being pinned at an early fourth-round grade. With scouts seeing more of his game in 2020-21 than players in Canadian leagues, with the OHL being canceled completely and the WHL and QMJHL playing abbreviated seasons, he could sneak into the third round if general managers are more confident in him.
“No doubt in my mind that Topias Vilén is one of the top Finnish defensemen in his age group. He managed well in the Liiga this past season despite his young age and did not look out of place” -Marco Bombino, McKeen’s Hockey
Related: THW’s 2021 NHL Draft Guide
“He earned his full-time with the Liiga’s Pelicans with a reliable presence in his own zone, leveraging sound off-the-puck reads, stopping power, and an unrelenting motor to keep the opposition at bay.” –EliteProspects
- Defensive Awareness
- Unrelenting Motor
Under Construction – Improvements to Make
Vilen needs to refine his offensive game more to stick in the NHL. He needs to limit his mistakes when on the attack and use the Hockey IQ he has in the defensive zone to make the right plays on offense. If he can develop as an offensive player, he could be a steal in this year’s draft and be a very good NHL player. If not, he might be a bottom pairing defenseman or a fringe player who splits time between the NHL and AHL.
Vilen possesses the intangibles and defensive ability to be a very good player in this league, but what decides his ceiling is where his offensive game develops. If he makes a lot of the mistakes he made offensively this season, he might have a hard time cracking a spot in an NHL lineup. If he can fix his mistakes, he could easily be at least a second pairing defenseman in a few years time. His offensive game just has to catch up with his poised defensive abilities.
Risk – 2/5 Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 4/10 Defense – 8/10
Topias Vilen Statistics
Colby Guy is a writer for the Florida Panthers department here at THW. He’s a senior at Florida Atlantic University and currently serves as a social media manager and photographer for FAU Owls Nest. Previously, Colby has written for FanSided as a New York Islanders, Florida Panthers, and Nashville Predators writer. He also served as Editor-In-Chief for FAU’s University Press.