With the 16th Pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, the Calgary Flames Have Selected Juuso Valimaki From the Tri-City Americans in the WHL.
About Juuso Valimaki
A very good offensive defenseman with above-average size, skating and skill, Valimaki has the potential to excel at the NHL level due to his good speed and vision. Primarily an offensive player, Valimaki will have to work on his defensive ability and tendencies if he wants to succeed at the NHL level, but his size and skillset bode well for his chances at making it to the NHL.
Scoring an impressive 19 goals and 61 points in 60 games with the Tri-City Americans last season, the Nokia, Finland-native broke out and showcased his ability in the WHL. The hope now for the Calgary Flames is that Valimaki continues to improve in the WHL while fine-tuning his two-way ability.
— NHL (@NHL) June 24, 2017
THW Prospect Profile Excerpt:
Over the past several years, Finland has sent a steady diet of very good young defensemen to both North American junior hockey and, eventually, the National Hockey League. The 2016 Draft had Olli Juolevi. This year’s standout Finnish defenseman is Juuso Välimäki of the Tri-City Americans.
A product of the Finnish developmental system who has worked through the various junior leagues across the pond, he established himself as a 16-year-old as one of the best under-20 defenders in Finland. He came over to North America in the 2015 CHL Import Draft as a 17-year-old and seemed to adjust to the smaller North American ice rather quickly. He accumulated 32 points as a rookie in the Western Hockey League and nearly doubled his production to 61 points this season.
On many levels, Välimäki is a scout’s dream: he’s big and uses his size intelligently, not pulling himself out of position to make hits but not shying away from using physicality to help his team. He’s equal parts distributor and shooter, though he sometimes needs to pick his spots better as a shooter and relies on power play production for a lot of his offense. Moreover, Välimäki processes the game at a high level and isn’t often caught out of position, even when playing the opposition’s best players.
It’s hard to go wrong with Finnish defensemen these days, and Välimäki is a strong addition to the crop of blueliners being produced by Finland. He’ll be a nice addition for some NHL club in the first round of the 2017 Draft.
How This Affects the Calgary Flames’ Plans
The Calgary Flames are a team that seems like a match made in heaven for a player like Valimaki. A strong offensive-defenseman who isn’t afraid to use his size and play a physical game, Valimaki could be a very good complementing player to a defensive group that already features Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie and Dougie Hamilton. With forwards Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk, the Flames could have one of the better young cores in the NHL for years to come once Valimaki makes the jump to the next level.
Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for six years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.