It’s been a bit of a wait compared to recent drafts, but certainly well worth it. At 16th overall, the Calgary Flames have selected Juuso Valimaki, a defenceman from the Tri-City Americans of the WHL.
After a few good breaks and a few surprise selections, Valimaki has fallen into the lap of the Flames. He’s been ranked eleventh on Central Scouting’s North American list, and also gets rave reviews from other scouting services. Praised for his both his defensive and offensive skills, he finished with 19 goals, 42 assists, and 61 points in 60 games for the Americans. He scored two goals at the World Juniors, where he suited up for all six games for the Finns.
Valimaki certainly has talent. Our pals at Canucksarmy used their magical P/GPS system
and gave him a 71.1% expected success rating with an expected 32.5 points per 82 games. At that, he is likely one of the safest defencemen in the draft.
Who knows how long it takes for him to get to the NHL, but you have to think it’s sooner rather than later. With a few spots open on the big team, he could perhaps make an argument for one of those spots. Otherwise, he’ll head back to Tri City, where he will be a leader for the Americans.
To sum it up, the Flames have taken a great player and have added a great piece to their already deep defensive pool. It’s a bright future.