With the NHL Draft right around the corner, we wanted to take some time and profile each American that was named on the final rankings put out by NHL Central Scouting for North American skaters.
Juuso Välimäki. The Finnish Phenomenon. He scores like a first line forward and shuts down top lines like a stay at home D-Man. Juuso is one of the highest ranked defensemen in this year’s NHL Draft, and for good reason. He was within the Top 10 scoring defensemen in the league this season as well as being the 4th leading scorer on the team. He scored the first hat trick by a defenseman since 1997. Juuso nearly doubled his point output compared to the 2015-16 season and averaged over a point per game. The big Fin is poised to hear his name called in the first round of the Draft.
How did you feel about your play this last season?
I think I played good hockey. I played with my strengths and with confidence and I think I helped the team to win games. Big thing is that I improved a lot during the season and I got better on things where I wanted to get better like skating and my gaps.
What are your goals for this next season, for you personally, and for the team overall?
My goal for next season is play in the NHL. That’s where my focus is right now and I’m working every day for that. Obviously huge thing for me again is to get a lot better and improve as a player wherever I’ll play. Doesn’t matter which team I will play with, I wanna win. I wanna win the league where I’m gonna play and that’s my goal.
What are you doing this off season to not only get ready for August (our camp and possibly NHL camp), but also what are you doing to stay focused on your goals?
During the off-season I need to work really hard and improve my physical skills. During summer, there is a lot more time to workout than during the season so I need to use that time to get stronger and faster and then be ready for the season. I also need to relax little bit because the season is long and there is lots of hockey so I want to use my time little bit too on other things than hockey like family and friends and keep my mind fresh and ready for the season.
Every kid who grew up playing hockey dreamed of hearing their name called at the Draft. What are you feeling now that the dream is so close to possibly coming true?
It’s exciting to know that probably it’s going to happen. Obviously it has been a dream almost my whole life and it has been my goal for many years now so it really is an exciting time right now.
What are you going to be doing on draft day? (at your house with family, in Chicago, not watching the draft)
I will go to Chicago with my family. We are all excited about the week there and it will be unforgettable time there.