Prospects News & Rumors: Välimäki, Holtz, Bourque & More

The Calgary Flames loaned a former first-round pick to the Finnish Liiga, a top prospect for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft gets his first goal of the season, and the Shawinigan Cataractes named their captain for the 2020-21 season.

Flames Loan Välimäki To Finland

The Flames have loaned defenseman Juuso Välimäki to Tampereen Ilves in the Finnish Liiga for the start of their 2020-21 season. Drafted 16th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, he split the season between the NHL and American Hockey League. In the AHL, he amassed four goals and 14 points in 20 games played for the Stockton Heat. With the Flames, he managed to post one goal and two assists in 20 games played. He suffered a torn ACL during the offseason and missed the entirety of the 2019-20 season.

All eyes will be on Välimäki when he takes the ice for the first time in over a year. It will be some valuable playing time for the Finnish defenseman as he looks to be fit for the start of Flames’ training camp. He will be familiar with Ilves after playing in their U16, U18, and U20 systems before he came over to the Western Hockey League in 2015. He will be able to return for training camp and will be eligible to play in the NHL in the 2020-21 season.

Holtz Scores First Goal of the Season

The 2020-21 Swedish Hockey League season is freshly underway, and top prospect for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, Alexander Holtz, has gotten off the mark. In his second game of the season for Djurgårdens IF, Holtz was able to bury a rebound to pick up his first SHL goal of the season. Widely regarded as having the best shot in the 2020 draft class, this should be the first of many for Holtz in what should be a breakthrough season.

THW’s own Matthew Zator had this to say about Holtz in his 2020 NHL Entry Draft Prospect Profile.

Holtz is an exceptional talent with a bright future in the NHL. From his speed, elite hockey sense, quick hands, and NHL-ready shot, he has all the things you want in a top-line winger. He also has the vision to create plays for his teammates as well. Basically, he’s the complete package, with very little weaknesses to his game. He has the potential to be a top-five pick and will be a top-10 pick for sure.

The Swedish sniper amassed nine goals and 16 points in 35 games played in the SHL during the 2019-20 season. Holtz is as close to a consensus top 10 pick as it gets, and it would be extremely surprising to see him fall any further than that come draft day on Oct. 6.

Bourque Named Captain For Shawinigan

The Shawinigan Cataractes announced on Thursday that forward Mavrik Bourque was named the new team captain for the 2020-21 season. He takes over for former captain Gabriel Denis who decided not to return to the team. Bourque is a potential first-round selection in the upcoming 2020 NHL Entry Draft and has been key to the Cataractes’ success over the last two seasons. During the 2019-20 season, he amassed 29 goals and 42 assists for 71 points in 49 games played. He finished tied for first in team scoring with Xavier Bourgault despite playing 14 fewer games.

Cataractes head coach Ron Choules had this to say about Bourque in a recent press release by the team.

Mavrik has an impeccable work ethic. He works very hard in games, practices and off-ice training. He is a person who has an impact on his teammates through his actions

(from ‘Mavrik Bourque becomes the new captain of the Cataractes’, 10/01/2020)

With the 2020-21 season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League set to launch, Bourque will be one of the most exciting players in the league to watch this season.

Prospect of the Day – Jean-Luc Foudy

For today’s prospect, we head to the Ontario Hockey League and analyze Windsor Spitfires’ forward Jean-Luc Foudy. NHL Central Scouting has Foudy ranked 33rd among North American skaters. In his final rankings, THW’s Larry Fisher ranked him 63rd among all players.

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The Scarborough, ON native played for the Spitfires in the OHL during the 2019-20 season. He amassed 15 goals and 28 assists for 43 points in 59 games played. He tied for seventh in team scoring and sixth among forwards. He is the younger brother of Columbus Blue Jackets’ forward and former London Knight Liam Foudy.

Like his brother, the base of Jean-Luc’s game centers around his elite skating ability. He’s one of the fastest players in the entire league and has an excellent first step and exceptional agility. That said, consistency has been a problem for Foudy. He’s a good playmaker and possesses an average shot, but he has work to do in both areas to really become an effective player on a nightly basis. He does well in his own zone but will need to add strength to be an effective two-way player in the future.

Windsor Spitfires Jean-Luc Foudy
Jean-Luc Foudy of the Windsor Spitfires. (Terry Wilson / OHL Images

THW’s own Dave Jewell had this to say about Foudy’s game and his potential for the future.

At the start of the season, one could argue he was top-20 material. His speed, creativity, and vision were ranked up there with some of the best in the draft. However, as the season progressed, teams scouted him well and he was forced to adapt. The result was an overall better game that just needs development. With great bloodlines, long-term potential, and a drive to prove the critics wrong, he looks like a player you’ll want to watch. 

Foudy’s speed will earn him some recognition come draft day on Oct. 6. However, it’s doubtful he’s drafted higher than his brother was, and he’ll likely go some time in the second round. He’s got some work to do to develop his game, but he’s got the tools to succeed at the NHL level. Once he does, he can be an effective top-six contributor in the NHL who can make an impact in all situations.