Vili Saarijarvi

Hometown:

Rovaniemi Finland

Currently Playing In:

CHL

Birthday:

1997-05-15

Position:

D

Eligible for draft:

2015

Shoots:

Right

Drafted:

2015

Height:

5-9

Acquired:

3rd round (73rd overall), 2015

Weight:

163 lbs.

<<<<<<< Updated upstream
History

2011-12: Vili Saarijarvi played for the RoKi U16 team in his hometown of Rovaniemi in northern Finland as a 14-year-old. In 33 games at the Division 1 level he scored 8 goals with 16 assists and 51 penalty minutes.

2012-13: Saarijarvi went from RoKi to Karpat Oulu in the Finland top division, skating for the club’s U20, U18 and U16 teams. In five games with the Karpat U20 team, including two A Juniors playoff games, he had 1 assist and was -4 with 4 penalty minutes. Saarijarvi was one of the top offensive defensemen in B Juniors skating for the Karpat U18 team. He scored 5 goals with 25 assists and 24 penalty minutes in 38 regular season games and had 1 assist with 2 penalty minutes in three playoff contests. The Karpat U16 team won the Finnish championship and in 19 games, including nine playoff games, Saarijarvi scored 9 goals with 16 assists and 18 penalty minutes.

2013-14: Saarijarvi spent his first full season in the Finland U20 league as a 16-year-old and played for the Finland U17 team in international play. In 40 regular season games he scored 7 goals with 21 assists and was +15 with 10 penalty minutes. Karpat reached the A Juniors finals against Espoo Blues after finishing fifth in the regular season. Saarijarvi scored 1 goal and had an even plus/minus with 6 penalty minutes in 12 playoff games. In 15 games with the Finland U17 team he scored 2 goals with 9 assists and was +9 with 12 penalty minutes. Saarijarvi was selected by Jokerit in the fifth round (207th overall) in the 2014 KHL Draft.

2014-15: Saarijarvi played for the Finland U18 team at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in August before heading to North America to play for the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers. He played a key role for the Finland U18 team in its surprising run to the gold medal game in the 2015 World Junior Championship. The top scorer amongst defensemen for the Gamblers, he scored 6 goals with 17 assists and was -3 with 14 penalty minutes in 57 games. Green Bay missed the playoffs, finishing eighth in the Eastern Conference. Saarijarvi scored 1 goal with 3 assists and was -1 with 2 penalty minutes in four games at the Ivan Hlinka tournament. Saarijarvi led all defensemen with nine points at the WJC, scoring 3 goals with 6 assists, and was +2 with 4 penalty minutes in seven games. Finland captured a silver medal, falling 2-1 to the USA in the gold medal game. Saarijarvi was not among the 210 North American skaters listed in the Central Scouting final rankings but was selected by Detroit in the third round (73rd overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft. He was selected by the Flint Firebirds (formerly the Plymouth Whalers) in the first round (9th overall) in the 2015 CHL Import Draft. Saarijarvi signed a three-year entry-level contract with Detroit in July 2015.

2015-16: Saarijarvi attended training camp with the Red Wings before joining the OHL’s Flint Firebirds and skated for the gold medal-winning Finland U20 team at the 2016 World Juniors. He made his pro hockey debut in April, skating for the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. Saarijarvi scored 1 goal with 3 assists and was -3 in five games with the Walleye. He scored 12 goals with 31 assists and was -15 with 32 penalty minutes in 59 regular season games for Flint as the Firebirds finished last in the West Division. Saarijarvi had 4 assists and an even plus/minus with 2 penalty minutes in seven games at the WJC. The host team, Finland defeated Russia in overtime, 4-3, in the gold medal game.

Talent Analysis

Saarijarvi is a fleet but small skating defenseman with off the charts offensive instincts. His size and attacking impulses sometimes compromise his defensive play and he will need to increase his awareness to have success at the next level.

Future

Saarijarvi had a roller coaster season in 2015-16 — making his professional debut with the ECHL's Toledo Walleye following his first season in the OHL. The 18-year-old signed an entry-level contract with Detroit in July 2015 before joining the OHL's Flint Firebirds. In a tumultuous first season after re-locating from Plymouth, the team's owners fired the coaching staff twice and the team ultimately finished last in its division. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Finland's U20 team won a gold medal on home ice in Helsinki and Saarijarvi was part of the team's lethal power play. Like fellow Red Wings' prospect Joe Hicketts, Saarijarvi is a fast but undersized puck mover who will need to add strength to compete at the pro level. He will likely spend one more year in junior hockey though he is eligible to play in the AHL as a 19-year-old in 2016-17.

Detroit Red Wings junior prospects a variety pack of possibilities

by Ryan Womeldorf
on
Dominic Turgeon - Detroit Red Wings

Photo: Detroit Red Wings prospect Dominic Turgeon has taken on a more offensive role with the Portland Winterhawks in his fourth season with the WHL squad (courtesy of Marissa Baeckaer/Getty Images)

 

 

The Detroit Red Wings have seen an influx of young talent over the last several years, with the biggest changes coming at the AHL level. Several of their top prospects have graduated to Grand Rapids, having various impacts from low-level grinder all the way to top-line players. Still, even with all of the recent graduates, there are a handful of junior level prospects that could be making noise in the Detroit organization a few years down the road.

Read more»

HF NHL Prospect of the Month, October, 2015: Yan tops group that includes a second Lightning prospect

by Chris Roberts
on
Dennis Yan - Tampa Bay Lightning - HF's NHL Prospect of the Month, October, 2015

Photo: Shawinigan Cataractes forward and Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Dennis Yan is currently 10th in scoring in the QMJHL with 17 goals and 31 points in 17 games (courtesy of Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

 

 

No player at any level this season has had better puck luck than Dennis Yan of the Shawinigan Cataractes. The 2015 third round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning scored on 41.2 percent of his shots in the month of October, totalling 14 goals (on 34 shots) and 10 assists in 11 games. He also had four game-winning goals. Yan’s performance was enough to earn him the Hockey’s Future NHL Prospect of the Month designation for October of 2015. Read more»

Detroit Red Wings prospects put organizational reputation to the test in 2015-16

by Ryan Womeldorf
on
Vili Saarijarvi - Detroit Red Wings

Photo: Detroit prospect Vili Saarijarvi is off to a promising start to his season with the Flint Firebirds of the OHL (courtesy of Graig Abel/Getty Images)

 

 

The Detroit Red Wings find themselves in a little bit of a different position that we are used to seeing them. Granted, they still consistently find regular season success and make the playoffs in the face of long odds, but the veteran core is finding itself being more and more minimized.

The youth movement in Detroit has already gotten underway, thanks to exciting players like Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar. Behind them, there are a plethora of enticing prospects that the Red Wings will be leaning heavily on in the future.

Read more»

2015 NHL Draft Review: Rantanen heads bumper crop of Finnish draftees

by Tony Piscotta
on
Mikko Rantanen - Colorado Avalanche

Photo: Colorado Avalanche 2015 first round pick Mikko Rantanen signed an entry-level deal with the team in July (courtesy of Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

 

 

Entering the 2015 NHL Draft, there was much uncertainty regarding the prospects coming out of Finland. TPS Turku center Mikko Rantanen was the top-ranked European skater according to Central Scouting, but after that it was anybody’s guess as to how things would go in Sunrise, Florida. Read more»

Plenty of potential among Top 20 Detroit Red Wings prospects

by Ryan Womeldorf
on
Dylan Larkin - Detroit Red Wings

Photo: Detroit Red Wings’ top prospect Dylan Larkin is a superb skater who has gone against recent club history with a rapid rise to the pro ranks (courtesy of John Crouch/Icon Sportswire)

 

 

The summer 2015 edition of the Detroit Red Wings Top 20 prospects only has a few new names. The club has managed to maintain NHL-ready depth along with some elite talents: pretty impressive given that the Red Wings haven’t had the luxury of picking in the top half of the draft in nearly three decades.

Read more»