When the Devils picked Topias Vilen with the 129th-overall pick during the 2021 NHL Draft, the franchise was impressed by the defenseman's consistency and physicality.
"Big defenseman, kills penalties, plays power play, transports the puck very well," said Devils Director of European Scouting, Greg Royce. "He has a very good hockey IQ. He can play physical. He's not really fancy, but very, very reliable. He's a very predictable defenseman."
However, Vilen is working towards being more than just a defenseman. One place he showed the offensive side of his game was representing Finland at the 2021 Under-18 World Championship. Vilen was a top pair defenseman for his home country, and through seven games he had four assists.
"I think I showed everybody I can play with the puck, and play the power play," Vilen said about his performance at the tournament. "I'm not just a defensive defenseman."
In addition to his success playing against his age group at U-18s, Vilen spent some of this season playing professional hockey in Finland. The experience allowed the young blueliner the opportunity to play against men, and learn how to be a true professional at a young age.
"There are a lot of stronger guys, much better players. So (my game) improved, especially my defensive game," Vilen said in a media availability following the draft. "I need to be ready every game. Every time I go on the ice, the guys are going hard. I think I grew also mentally this year when I played with them."
As Vilen looks to continue building his offensive side of the game, while developing into a professional player, he has the foundation set to find success as a defenseman for the Devils.
"I think I can bring a strong two-way (game) and be a great teammate," Vilen said. "I am pretty excited."