The Calgary Flames have selected defenceman Juuso Valimaki with the 16th-overall pick at the 2017 NHL Draft.
The smooth-skating defenceman has great offensive upside—something he worked on all season with the WHL’s Tri-City Americans. The 6-foot-2, 201-lb blue liner is great at jumping into the rush, and excels when given the opportunity to flex his offensive muscles. He registered 19 goals and 42 assists for 61 points in 60 games in 2016-17, good for second among his club’s rearguards and fourth among all teammates.
Valimaki, 18, was ranked 11th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. The Nokia, Finland native has drawn comparisons to fellow Finnish rearguard Olli Juolevi, who was taken fifth overall by the Vancouver Canucks in 2016.
Valimaki developed in the Finnish system—an increasingly strong program, especially when it comes to defencemen—and chose to hone his skills in North America. He is one of six Finnish players—four of whom are defencemen—to be selected in this first round.
He joined the WHL’s Americans prior to the 2015-16 season, and his mother and brothers moved to Washington a year later to help him through his draft year.