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Road to the NHL Draft: Juuso Valimaki

Juuso Valimaki

Position: Defense

Junior team: Tri-City (WHL)

2016-17 stats: 60 games, 19 goals, 42 assists, 61 points

Size: 6-foot-2, 204 pounds

Born: Tampere, Finland

Central Scouting rank: No. 11 (North America)

What to know: Valimaki’s career path was going well in Finland. He excelled at every level, including the top junior league. He was named Rookie of the Year in 2013-14, and the previous two winners – Kasperi Kapanen and Jesse Puljujärvi – are in the NHL.

Still, Valimaki wanted to get a jump-start on the North American game. It’s paid off.

The offensively talented blue-liner is in the running to be the first defenseman drafted. He had seven goals and 32 points during his first season with Tri-City, and those numbers exploded to 19 goals and 61 points in 60 games this year. Valimaki also represented Finland in the world juniors, recording two goals in six games.

Responsible and dependable, Valimaki records his points by making the smart play and rarely being reckless. He’s capable at both ends of the ice. He’s served as captain on two Finnish national teams.

He said it: “Always with Finnish hockey, the biggest thing has been, ‘Be a team. Team play.’ But for these last couple years, there’s been a lot of individual talent, too. I think that has helped a lot.” – Valimaki.

The Buffalo News is profiling prospects leading up to the NHL Draft, which will be held June 23-24 in Chicago.

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