The Washington Capitals made their first pick in the 2021 NHL Draft on Saturday, taking Brandon Wheat Kings defenseman Vincent Iorio 55th overall.
The 18-year-old is a right-handed defenseman and a product of the Western Hockey League. This is the ninth WHL player that the Capitals have taken in the NHL Draft over the last four years.
Iorio is a right-handed blueliner who was the No. 71 ranked North American skater heading into this year’s draft. Before COVID-19 abruptly ended the 2019-20 campaign, Iorio had four goals and 21 points in 59 games with the Wheat Kings. Last season, he lit the lamp five times and dished 12 points in 22 games, and he was a plus-8.
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EliteProspects describes Iorio as “Han Solo with a blaster” on the breakout. He has an impressive point shot and is a strong skater who can be deceptive and lethal on offense. Iorio can make a smart first pass and move the puck well up ice, which should help him flourish under Peter Laviolette, who encourages his defensemen to get involved in the forecheck.
In his own end, Iorio is able to play top-4 minutes and battle hard for the puck. The 6-3, 191-pound d-man has the size and physicality to battle hard for the puck and shut down scoring chances in front of the net. His defensive awareness and hockey IQ helps him shut down opportunities and force turnovers, while also helping him keep track of who’s on the ice and what the next move may be. He also skates well and pressures his opponents, which limits their time and decision-making.
Overall, he’s a solid, smart two-way defenseman with a lot of upside. As he continues to grow his game and improve in different areas, expect him to continue to add to the offensive aspect of his game.