Four years into his professional hockey career, Joni Jurmo is excited for new beginnings.

The Finnish defenceman signed an entry-level contract with the Flames Sunday, fulfilling a lifelong dream while also paving the way for a new challenge on this side of the Atlantic.

“Words can’t even express how happy and excited I am to join the Flames,” Jurmo said when reached by phone Sunday. “It’s been a lifetime dream of mine to get an NHL contract and maybe, one day, play in the NHL which is the main goal for me right now.”

Originally a third-round pick by the Canucks in 2020, Jurmo’s rights landed with the Flames as part of the Elias Lindholm trade in January and in the two months since, he’s become the second prospect acquired by Calgary in the deal to put pen to paper on an entry-level deal.

But the trade wasn’t necessarily something the 21-year-old was expecting.

“I think it was like 8 a.m. when I woke up in Finland, and I just saw my phone had blown up, pretty much, from messages,” Jurmo recalled. “I was like, wondering what’s going on because I had no idea this was going on, but when I saw it and quickly realized I’m going to join the Flames and be part of a pretty big trade, I think it was super-cool and a pretty good thing for me, because the Flames are a great organization.”

Standing 6-foot-5, he’s an imposing figure on the playing surface and will be especially so on the smaller, North American ice.

But Jurmo understands the importance of mobility in today’s game, and sees his ability to move his feet as one of his biggest on-ice attributes.

“I think my biggest strength is my skating, and when you combine that with my size and reach, I think that’s a pretty good combination,” he said. “I think my defensive game has developed a lot here in the last couple of years, I think I’ve matured in my game a lot, but there’s still holes in my game that I need to fill out in order to play in the best league in the world.

“But I think those are not that big of holes that I need to fill out; potentially, in the future with the help of the Flames, I can develop those to a good level.”

His fourth season in the top division of Finnish hockey ended earlier this month - in all Jurmo chipped in with a goal and four assists from his 46 games split between Ilves and KooKoo.

But most importantly, he’ll arrive in North America with the confidence to play against older players, thanks to more than 150 appearances in the Finnish Liiga.

“I think it’s been huge for me,” Jurmo said of his pro experience. “I moved out of home almost immediately when I turned 18, signed my first pro contract then, and learned how it is to actually be like a pro, and live like a pro.

“Playing against grown-up men, strong guys that know how to battle, it’s been huge for me and helping me a lot to grow my game.”Like many pro hockey players, Jurmo is also a student of the game, studying tendencies and picking parts of NHL defencemen's games to apply to his own.

“When I was younger I watched a lot of Erik Karlsson, and more offensive defencemen, but as I’ve grown up, I’ve started to watch other guys play, because I think I can get more out of their playing style to take to my game,” he noted. “I really like to watch Miro Heiskanen; I practice with him in the summers, too, it’s nice to be up close to see how unbelievable a player he is.”

Jurmo’s two-year Flames contract takes effect in 2024-25, and it’s safe to say he’ll be counting down the days until next fall’s training camp - with an eye on pushing for a roster spot.

He figures this summer will be one rife with anticipation, and preparation for what North America, and Calgary has to offer.

“Super-excited, and can’t wait to join the Flames.”