With the 16th overall pick at the 2017 NHL Draft, the Flames have selected Tri-City Americans defenceman Juuso Valimaki.
Valimaki was the Americans’ fourth-leading scorer in 2016-17, netting 19 goals and 61 points in 60 regular season games. He had one assist in four playoff games this past spring.
He for Finland at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, scoring two goals in seven games.
Valimaki has also represented Finland at the 2015 and 2016 U18 World Junior Championship tournaments, winning silver and gold medals respectively.
JUUSO VALIMAKI – DEFENCE BORN: Oct. 6, 1998 HOMETOWN: Nokia, Finland HEIGHT: 6’2″ WEIGHT: 211 lbs. SHOOTS: Left NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING FINAL RANKING: 11
WHAT SCOUTS SAY – JUUSO VALIMAKI
Hear what scouts have to say about the Flames’ first round pick
INTERNATIONAL SCOUTING SERVICE – RANKED 14th OVERALL
Valimaki is one of the top two-way defenders in this year’s draft. He logs a lot of minutes for Tri-City and is relied on in every situation. He is a smooth skating and very mobile defender hat has an effortless skating stride. He has good vision and composure from the back end and rarely panics or turns the puck over. He is not afraid to join the rush to try to create offense for hist eam, but he picks his spots very well. Stands up at the blueline forcing the play -confidence in his mobility. Uses his partner well. Communicates well. Covers for his partner when he is in trouble. Needs to be more consistent overall, he can disappear for long periods of time.
Style Comparison: Ivan Provorov
FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS – RANKED 12th OVERALL
Valimaki is a fluid puck-mover that shows a creative knack in the offensive zone and plays a strong defensive game. A smooth-skating, two-way defender who excels with not only finesse but in his ability to play a heavy and reliable defensive game. He moves extremely well for his size and can absolutely fly at an impressive tempo when he wants to apply pressure. One of smartest player on the ice, Valimaki used his unflappable persona and high-end puck-moving skills to pick apart his opponents methodically. His ability to move or skate the puck makes him a dual threat from the backend as calm and confident player. He has a great release on his preferred wrist shot and is able to find holes to the net by mere inches, all due to his precision and ability to keep his head engaged with the target. His options are never limited and he’s too clever to defend comprehensively. He is a boulder on the back-end and not a player who coughs up the puck or gets steamrolled in battles or off the rush. While not an overly aggressive player, he gets in opponents’ heads by not relinquishing an inch of free ice and consistently causing frustration with his ability to remain in great position to separate his man from the puck.
NHL Potential: Top-Four Two-Way Defenceman
REDLINE REPORT – RANKED 17TH OVERALL
An all-around defenceman who plays big minutes in all situations. Outstanding hockey sense – anticipates the play well and makes good decisions. Plays a smooth game and is always under control. Very calm and patient with the puck. Sees the whole ice and is a confident puckhandler. Has a big frame and plenty of strength. Not a big banger, but uses his body effectively down low behind the net to rub men out and to box out in front. Highly mobile skater who loves to join the rush and carry the puck in deep. Has good offensive instincts and the skating ability to get back into position with ease. Crisp tape-to-tape outlets and always has his head up. Plays a mistake-free game and is rarely out of position. Communicates well with teammates and is active away from the puck. Good gap control and stick placement. Not an overpowering shot, but accurate and he gets it through traffic.