The Calgary Flames announced the signing of Juuso Valimaki today to a two-year, $3.1 million deal. He was the team’s first-round pick in 2017.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) August 20, 2021
Juuso Valimaki Signs with Flames
Juuso Valimaki will be 24 years old at the start of the 2021-22 season and was just breaking through when a torn ACL at the beginning of 2019-20 derailed his season. This is a nice change from the usual reason players missed games then, but certainly didn’t help his development. Fortunately, he recovered well enough to join the Finnish Liiga for 2020-21, scoring two goals and 19 points in 19 games. He rejoined Calgary when the NHL started up and picked up two goals and eleven points in 49 games.
Valimaki has had a massively interrupted introduction to the NHL. Even so, his modest production is built on pretty good underlying numbers. This is especially true for a third-pair player getting around 15:30 per game. In his two seasons, he’s hit break-even on his Corsi (50.1%) despite some bad luck while he’s on the ice.
What This Means
In Calgary he has mostly been a “third-pair-plus” defenceman, being used regularly on the penalty kill. While that’s good for his all-around game, he was drafted because of his point-per-game play with the WHLs Tri-City Americans. Calgary will undoubtedly want his offence to pick up before this deal expires. With luck, Valimaki will have the full season to find his shot. Realistically, he should be behind only Noah Hanifin on the left side, and opportunities should follow.
Calgary built a reputation for their excellent defence corps, but it’s taken a beating of late. With team captain Marc Giordano leaving town for the expansion team Seattle Kraken, some offensive responsibility is falling to Valimaki. He should be able to handle the extra workload with ease. He certainly has an inspiring target to reach if he ever does get to free agency.
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