He’s day-to-day right now for us, Pat. Little nicked up, as you mentioned. He seemed to be a little bit better today, in having some conversations with him as we travelled [from Ontario to Henderson]. He’ll see some doctors and our training staff today here, again, and kind of see where he’s at as we move forward throughout the week.
Rewatched the second period of yesterday's Stockton Heat game against Ontario to try and pinpoint how #Flames prospect Juuso Valimaki suffered his lower-body injury (day-to-day).
What immediately stood out to me was this hit Valimaki took from Brett Sutter early in the period. pic.twitter.com/F81jqFI8OW
— Mike Gould (@miketgould) January 11, 2022
He’s fit in real nice. You know, he does a lot of good things. He’s a competitive kid, he moves pucks very efficiently out of his own end of the ice, he’s added to our power play. He has the ability to do that and, again, when you’re able to add a guy like that to your roster, especially at a very important position like defence, he’s been a welcome addition to our group.
This guy — he’s 150 pounds, I couldn’t even tell you how tall he is, I mean — he goes into the hard areas of the rink, he’s so competitive on loose pucks even though his stature isn’t there. It’s hard to sit on that bench or sit behind the players on the bench and watch what he does and not follow suit because he plays the game so hard. His skillset, his creativity, his ability to make plays and people around him better just because he’s so smart and in tune with the game each and every night, he’s a fun player to watch and he’s been very key for our team’s success this year.
It’s hard to say. He makes plays at a high level of speed, he’s not afraid — even though he’s not a very big guy — to go to the hard areas to score and make plays for his linemates. He does a lot of really good things. He’s a smart player, again, he’s a key guy on our special teams. His leadership is outstanding in terms of driving our culture each and every day in practice and in games. I’m just glad — I had to face this guy a lot in junior, coaching against him [as an assistant with the Everett Silvertips] and, man, he was a pain, ’cause he was such an effective hockey player. It’s just really nice to have him on our side, now. […]I think the biggest thing that sticks out for me is just his hockey sense and his competitiveness. He just plays the game so hard, he’s not afraid of anybody out there, he puts himself in harm’s way. That’s with you or it’s not. That’s something that he brings every day, and our guys recognize that, they follow suit, and, like I mentioned earlier, we’re just really fortunate to have him, he’s been a great leader for our hockey club this year.
It’s huge. Another very important position, we really feel confident with our centre ice depth here. Last night, we had @Glenn Gawdin, @Luke Philp playing centre, Byron, @Connor Zary, so again, we really felt like we could utilize the four lines of our hockey club to hopefully wear down an opponent that played the night previous, and I think that was a little bit of the case in our energy levels in the third period versus theirs. It’s been good, Byron hadn’t played a hockey game since Dec. 7, so it’s been some time since he was in some game action, but he was real strong for us. The importance of his leadership and delivering the right message on the bench and the dressing room between periods, that’s been very key for us to have back.
He plays a quiet game, and that’s not always a bad thing. He’s very responsible defensively, he’s on our power play, he’s one of our key penalty killers up front. He’s a guy who’s been around at this level for a few years, now. He provides that quiet leadership for our group. He’s anywhere between 18 and 22 minutes a night for us. That just comes to show you what kind of trust he has from our coaching staff to put him on the ice and play up and down our lineup and provide us that depth.