Now that the Draft Lottery has come and gone, it’s time to start getting a lay of the land in terms of potential 1st-round picks for the Red Wings. While it was disappointing for many fans for the Wings to drop two spots in the standings, they still have a great chance at drafting a high-level prospect. First on the docket is Finnish defenseman Juuso Valimaki of the Tri-City Americans (WHL).
Name: Juuso Valimaki
Date of birth: 10/6/98 (18 years old)
Birthplace: Nokia, Finland
Weight: 201 lbs.
NHL comparable: Erik Johnson
ISS Hockey: 11
McKeen’s Hockey: 16
Future Considerations: 12
NHL CSS: 11 (North America)
There is certainly no concern with Valimaki’s size. The six-foot-two, some-200-pound rearguard from Nokia, Finland made strides after a rough start to his sophomore season in the WHL.
After recovering from an injury, Valimaki finished seventh among defensemen in scoring with 61 points (19-42-61) in 60 games. Not staggering numbers, but Valimaki is touted more for his consistency with decision-making. In his second year, he took on a big-minute-logging role with his team.
The downside to Valimaki’s play is he’ll need to work on his puck-handling skills. The kid loves to carry the puck, and he skates extremely well for his size, but when carrying the puck he shows a lack of creativity to slice through defenders. I see him as a top-four guy in the future, but if he could put together a softer set of hands, you’re looking at a possible high-end puck-moving defender.
Credit: NHL Prospects - YouTube
Credit: Gybon B - YouTube
All-in-all, Juuso Valimaki is heavy two-way defender with offensive upside. Given some work against tougher competition and a little refining on his puck skills, he has great potential to be a minute-munching all situations type. Most models have him slipping down the rankings like many of the defensemen in the pool this year. If the Wings are looking to add more to their future blue line, you can bet this kid’s name is on their list.