#9: Juuso Valimaki
Team: Tri-City Americans (WHL)
Drafted: 2017, 1st Round, Pick 16
Last Year: #13
Voting Points: 2426
Last year’s first round pick really impressed with his development during the 2017-18 season. Valimaki had solid numbers in Tri-City, putting up 45 points in 43 games. He helped the Americans reach the third round of the WHL playoffs (Including sweeping the first two rounds) before they were dispatched by the Everett Silvertips. Valimaki’s production really ramped up in the playoffs where he had 17 points in 12 games, while also playing through injuries.
He also captained Finland at the World Junior championship where he had 4 points in 5 games. Unfortunately the Finns were knocked out in the quarterfinals of the tournament in a shootout (still the worst way to decide a playoff hockey game).
In terms of our fan voting, Valimaki finished over 400 points above Brett Kulak at #10, and just a few points shy of both our #8 and #7 players on the list.
Valimaki’s wealth of experience in big games over the past few years sets him up to really perform well this upcoming season. He’s already mentioned in public that he has his eyes set on making the Flames out of camp.
It may be tough for Valimaki to make the Flames right away, but he stands to benefit from getting some top pairing minutes in Stockton as well.
An interesting caveat about Valimaki’s current ELC, is that if he doesn’t play in 10 NHL games this year, his contract will slide forward one year. Essentially he’ll get a free year of AHL development and still have three years on his ELC through 2021-22 which is pretty awesome.
Valimaki looks to be the real deal, and it’s time to see if he can prove himself at the professional level, whether that be in Calgary or Stockton.
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