Juuso Valimaki could be one of the jewels in the upcoming 2017 NHL Draft. You would think a 6-2, 201-pound defenseman would be very sought after within this group. It still may turn out that way but as an example he’s ranked outside the Top 10 on most websites. Why? He’s scoring points, not a prolific rate, but he is scoring at a point-per-game so far. 41 points in 41 games for the Tri-City Americans. He had a good showing in the CHL Top Prospects Game playing for Team Orr.
Team Cherry is back in the win column for the first time since 2010, ending a six-year drought at the Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game with a 7-5 win in front of 9,707 at Centre Videotron in Quebec City.
Valimaki didn’t get on the scoresheet but he didn’t hurt his draft standing. He was a -1 with one shot, but I liked the way he moved the puck and set up his teammates for some scoring chances.
I like his hockey I.Q., his skating and he’s an effortless passer. He is ranked 9th in assists for defenseman, 15 of his 28 helpers came on the power play. His 13 goals rank him 5th in the WHL at his position.
The Finnish prospect has a good defensive game. He plays roles like he did at the 2017 World Junior Championships. He had 2 points in six games but he logged a lot of minutes and was vital to his team.
“We played in the relegation round so I can’t really say that anybody played really good but these last three games, we won three games, and I got two goals in this game, and I’m pretty happy about that,” Valimaki said after his last game in the tournament.
When thinking back about what went wrong for Team Finland he gave a thoughtful answer.
“In this tournament goal scoring was hard for us. Sometimes you can’t give a reason as to what went wrong. Like you said, sometimes these things just happen.”
Latvia took some cheap shots in that game and the defenseman didn’t like that.
“I don’t really like that,” he said honestly. “When it’s 4-1, whatever it is and there are a couple of minutes left. You don’t really have to try and kill anyone. I think they should just respect the other team too a little bit more. That’s what it was and we have to live with that.”
There’s a reason he’s worn the “C”. He is a leader on and off the ice and that matters when playing at the next level.
Look for him to go a bit higher when the final rankings hit. I have a feeling a lot of teams would love to draft him and his demand could grow as the draft draws near.
(L to R) Captain Nico Hischier, Eemeli Rasanen and Valimaki – Photo courtesy of Sotiropoulos (LHJMQ)