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By the Numbers Prospects: Vili Saarijarvi

Young defenseman played for both Grand Rapids and Toledo

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

By the Numbers will highlight the on-ice accomplishments in the 2017-18 season for the Detroit Red Wings' prospects. Twice a week during the offseason, By the Numbers will profile a different player in the system, focusing on his statistical highs. This week we focus on defenseman Vili Saarijarvi.

In Vili Saarijarvi's first season as a professional, he split time between the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins and the ECHL's Toledo Walleye.

The Detroit Red Wings took Saarijarvi in the third round, 73rd overall, in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Saarijarvi, who turns 21 on May 15, is a smaller defender, listed at 5-foot-10, 178 pounds.

42 - Saarijarvi played in 42 games for the Griffins this past season.

11 - Saarijarvi played in 11 games for the Walleye in a couple of different stints this past season. He also recorded 11 assists with the Griffins.

7 - In his 11 games with the Walleye, Saarijarvi recorded two goals among seven points.

1 - In his AHL debut on Oct. 28, 2017 at Rockford, Saarijarvi recorded his first AHL point on Axel Holmstrom's first-period goal, earning the second assist. Saarijarvi played in his first AHL playoff game on April 26, 2018 against the Manitoba Moose.

3 - Saarijarvi recorded a three-game assist streak from Dec. 13-16, 2017. On Dec. 13 at home against the Iowa Wild, Saarijarvi had the second assist on Ben Street's second goal of the game, a power-play tally in the third period. On Dec. 15 at home against the Chicago Wolves, Saarijarvi had the primary assist on Matthew Ford's goal in the second period, also on the power play. On Dec. 16 at home against the Milwaukee Admirals, Saarijarvi had the second assist on Ford's power-play goal in the first period. Saarijarvi also has three siblings.

0 - Of the 204 Finnish-born players who made it to the NHL, none were born in Saarijarvi's hometown of Rovaniemi. which is known for being the official "home" of Santa Claus. It is located four miles south of the Arctic Circle and has an approximate population of 62,000.

Quotable: "I think at the start of the year, we had so many D that he didn't have a great opportunity. But we sent him to Toledo and that really helped him out. He got comfortable playing there and played himself right out of the league. When he came back to us, he was a different player. It was pretty much a decent first year for him. Certain nights we played seven D and all the D didn't get the ice time they normally get, but it gave us some flexibility on the power play, which Vili played. He set himself up for a real strong year next year. For him, the biggest thing is to get stronger, get stronger in front of the net, get stronger off the walls." -- Griffins coach Todd Nelson

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