With the 16th overall pick, the Calgary Flames have many names to choose from. Let’s look at a possible draft pick with D Juuso Valimaki.
Well, the Calgary Flames finally (sort of) fixed their goaltending situation. And by that I mean they got a *number 1* goaltender. In case you haven’t heard, the Flames have just acquired Mike Smith in a trade from the Arizona Coyotes. More about that trade here.
But since their main problem this off-season was finding a starting goaltender and they’ve fixed that problem (take that with a grain of salt), they’ll most likely keeping their first-round pick. I was thinking a trade may happen on draft day for the Flames to acquire a starting goaltender, but with that out of the way, I think they’ll keep their 16th overall pick.
It’s also been released that Vegas has about three first-round picks right now with trades teams are making to them, but nobody on the Flames expected exposed list is really worth a first-round pick, so it may be safe to assume that the Flames will be keeping that pick. Now the Flames have one more big issue to address: a top-four defenceman. Of course, there’s always the Michael Stone option, but nonetheless, that’s another thing they need to fix this off-season. Something else are a few bottom-six wingers. With Vegas most likely taking a winger from the Flames and a few of their bottom-six guys have contracts expiring next season, that’s another thing they need to solve.
The options are endless for the Flames pick at this year’s draft. Yesterday, we looked at Swedish defenceman Timothy liljegren. Today, let’s look at Finnish defenceman Juuso Valimaki.
Who is Juuso Valimaki?
Name: Juuso Valimaki
Birth place: Nokia, Finland
Height: 6’2” / 188 cm
Weight: 91 kg / 201 lbs
Team: Tri-City Americans
Stats from 2016-2017
Stats with Tri-City Americans, Regular Season (From eliteprospects.com):
Stats with Finland U20 (all), International-Jr (From eliteprospects.com):
Among the WHL
- Seventh among all defencemen in points (61)
- Eight among all defencemen in powerplay assists (22)
- Fourth on the team in points
- Second on the team in PPA
- Round 1, 14th overall: Tri-City Americans, CHL Import Draft
- Round 6, 87th overall: Madison Capitols, USHL Entry Draft
Rankings for the 2017 NHL Entry Draft
- #12 by Future Considerations
- #14 by ISS Hockey
- “Underrated offensive upside. Very good shot/gets it to the net rarely using a slap shot”
- #14 by McKeen’s Hockey
- #17 by Hockeyprospect.com
- #11 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)
Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek ranked him at 14th overall in March, which is one spot lower than their previous rankings in January, claiming that he is “A good all-around blueliner who’s enjoyed great experience at the junior and international level. Not huge, but possesses great awareness. Has drawn comparisons to Olli Juolevi (VAN).”
NHL.com’s Mike Morreale put him at 7th overall in January.
"The two-way defenseman has brought more assertiveness to his game in his second WHL season. Valimaki (6-1, 204) has 39 points (12 goals, 27 assists) in 38 games and has shown more offensive drive and confidence in his game."
"A strong, minute-munching, two-way, dependable blueliner. Not a lot of high-end offensive flash or dash to his game, but just makes the right play consistently. Good vision and puck moving ability, has no panic to his game and waits for his options […] His hockey sense allows him to read and react to the play well in advance. Very committed to blocking shots. Big, rangy and covers a lot of ice, but his pivots and transitions are a little bit choppy […] Plays with a good mix of aggression and poise, stepping into lanes to take the puck away from the opposition. Just a good, poised, smart player who is not flashy, but consistently makes the right play and helps his team win games. (Future Considerations)."
Where does he fit in with the Flames?
An offensive-defenceman that isn’t flashy is exactly what most teams strive to get out of their top-four d-men. He definitely has big potential to be a top-four NHL defenceman in a matter of years. I can definitely see him with the Calgary Flames in a couple of years, maybe when captain Mark Giordano starts getting past his prime.
The only thing is the Flames already have a lineup of defencemen in Stockton who continue to improve and are waiting for their shot with a full-time position with the Flames. Just where does Valimaki fit with that, and will he be able to surpass them or will he be in line?
The fact that he isn’t flashy, but still makes the right plays reminds me of the way that Dougie Hamilton plays. Never too flashy, but is a smart shooter and knows when to go to the net. Like his scouting report says, he can be a little choppy in his transitions, but I mean, he’s only 18. I bet more than half the defencemen in the league right now were choppy in some way or another in their junior years.
I’d love for this guy to have a spot with the Flames, but they already have guys like Oliver Kylington and Rasmus Andersson whom Calgary Flames fans are confident in. As well as Flames management staff. If he can prove to be the next P.K. Subban or even Dougie Hamilton, then he’d definitely be next in line. But right now, some junior guys have the edge. He’s also highly ranked and one of the best defencemen in the draft this year. He may be gone by the time the Flames draft at that 16th overall pick.
And for fun, like always, let’s take a look at his highlights.
Between him and the other defencemen I’ve talked about with Callan Foote and Timothy Liljegren, I think I’m going to go with Liljegren. He’s been compared to Erik Karlsson several times and seems like an extremely solid pick. And if Liljegren goes ahead of that 16th pick, I’m thinking the Calgary Flames may be going with a forward.