Red Wings of Tomorrow is assessing every prospect in the Detroit Red Wings system and what they are projecting to be in the future. We’ll be looking at the strengths and weaknesses of their game, as well as what the future holds for them as they advance through the Detroit organization. Today, we feature defenseman Eemil Viro
How Acquired: Selected 70th overall, 2020 NHL entry draft
2021-22 Stats: (GP-G-A-P) 52-3-4-7 (with TPS Turku)
Contract Status: 2 years remaining (entry-level)
Anticipated 2022-23 Team: Grand Rapids Griffins
The last person to know he was drafted by the Red Wings was Eemil Viro.
“I was watching the draft and there was a commercial break and there was only black on the screen and then my friend put ‘congrats, mate’ on our group chat and I was like ‘What is going on?’” Viro recalled of the 2020 NHL entry draft. “Then when the break ends, there was my name on the list. Surprising but really happy.”
Viro originally displayed limited knowledge of the Red Wings, referring to GM Steve Yzerman as Wisemeister, which when you think about it based on Yzerman’s track record of building hockey teams, might not be all that inaccurate of a nickname for the Detroit boss.
The Red Wings wasted little time in getting Viro’s name on an entry-level NHL contract, inking him to a pact in May of 2021.
Eemil Viro, #6 for Finland, drafted at 70th Overall in 2020 by Detroit. Only Red Wings prospect returning home from WJC with a medal. 0+2 in 7 games and a +7. pic.twitter.com/Kd9U3wmFWF
— IcehockeyGifs (@IcehockeyG) January 6, 2021
At 6-foot, 165 pounds, the Finnish defender actually plays much bigger than his body dimensions. He’s just an all-around solid player, not really spectacular in any one aspect of his game. Viro projects to be a solid defender who won’t be wowing anyone but will be able to fill in effectively in any role the position requires.
“I think my skating and IQ and skating with the puck,” Viro lists as his best qualities.
Viro’s speed and mobility are his major assets he brings to the ice. His hockey sense enables him to makes reads rapidly and then he has the pace to quickly close gaps.
Estimated Time of Arrival in Detroit
Only 20, Viro has already spent three seasons playing with men in Finland’s SM-liiga for TPS Turku. The club advanced all the way to the league final this past season.
“He’s done well,” Red Wings assistant GM Shawn Horcoff said. “He plays in the men’s league there and he’s a player who defends well. He’s not he biggest guy but he has good compete, he moves the puck well. When he’s playing simple he’s at his best.
“He’s not a guy who’s going to (be) flashy or blow you away offensively. But he can still make plays. I don’t think you’ll see him in an offensive role, but you will see him in a defensive role, playing against other teams’ top lines, killing penalties.”
Slated to likely start the 2022-23 season in the AHL with the Grand Rapids Griffins, Viro is probably at least a couple of years away from having the chance at being an NHL regular. He’ll be battling for ice time among a rich crop of defensive prospects moving along the Detroit prospect pipeline.
— Finnish Jr Hockey (@FINjrhockey) July 27, 2021
“He’s just a real good defender that brings real good energy and is starting to gain a lot of experience over there,” Horcoff said. “Playing against men every night has been good for him. He’s a guy who’ll come over here next year and take another step forward in our development program.”