Following his No. 55 selection to the Washington Capitals, Vincent “Vinny” Iorio joined Zoom, a big smile on his face. His NHL dream was becoming a reality, and it was still sinking in.
“I’m still in shock right now,” Iorio said. “It’s a blessing to be part of a great organization like this one. It’s something I’m very, very proud of.”
Iorio had spoken to the Capitals a couple of times before the draft but didn’t know if the team would take him. Beyond interviews, Iorio also shares a unique tie to the organization: he trains and plays golf with Brenden Dillon. The two have become close over time, and Iorio has also taken away a lot of lessons from the Washington veteran.
“He’s a down-to-earth guy… he’s the best example of a role model you can have,” Iorio said.
The 18-year-old defenseman is the ninth WHL player over the last four years to be drafted by the Capitals. He’s a 6-3, 191-pound right-handed blueliner known for his impressive point shot and smart 200-foot game. Iorio fits well into Peter Laviolette’s systems, as the coach places emphasis on blueliners joining the forecheck.
“I consider myself a poised, smooth-skating, two-way defenseman who’s reliable in all three zones,” Iorio said. “I pride myself on my exits — I think that’s something that’s a top tier part of my game, really just creating offense for the team. One thing that I have developed is the ability to join the rush and create offense.”
READ MORE ON WHN: What To Know About Washington Capitals No. 55 Pick Vincent Iorio
In 2019-20, Iorio dished four goals and 21 points in 59 games before COVID-19 halted the season. Iorio acknowledged that the pandemic did create some challenges for players, especially with the pause. However, he tried to make the most out of his time off by continuing his training and skating. He came back for 22 games in 2020-21, recording five goals and 12 points.
“Nothing really changed from that perspective. I thought it was honestly an advantage to have that time,” Iorio explained. “You’re able to really keen in on specific things you wanted to work on, and I took full advantage of that, and I came into this season very prepared.”
Now heading to Washington, Iorio is looking forward to joining an organization with stars he admired growing up. In addition to Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, Iorio also watched John Carlson closely and has tried to model his game after the 2020 Norris finalist. In addition, he followed Washington’s 2018 Stanley Cup run and took a lot away from that as he works toward a playoff run and championship with Brandon.
“I’m very eager to learn and go to camp and just to soak everything in like a sponge and take everything in and all the information in,” Iorio said. “That’s one thing my parents and coaches told me to do and I’m really looking forward to that.”
At the end of the day, Iorio said he’ll continue to improve on different aspects of his game as he works to carry the Wheat Kings to a title.
“This is just the beginning,” Iorio said. “The real work starts now.”