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VALIMAKI: DIFFERENCE MAKER

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / calgaryflames.com

CHICAGO - Appetite is important. And not only in an all-you-can-eat buffet line.

"This,'' praised Tod Button of Tri-City Americans' cornerstone defenceman Juuso Valimaki, "is an explosive guy who has a big, big desire to change games. He wants to get up ice, he wants to make plays, he wants to get involved with the offence.

"Like most kids, he makes mistakes. But for every mistake he makes, he makes 25-30 good plays ups the ice. You don't need to light a fire under this kid, believe me.

"What's impressive is his will.

"He's happy to take on responsibility. He wants to make a difference. Every shift."

The Flames added Valimaki to their stable of prospects using the 16th selection in Friday's opening-round of the 2017 Entry Draft at the United Center.

Seattle-based scout Rob Sumner saw a lot of Valimaki, and echoed the assessment of Button, Calgary's director of amateur scouting.

 "We were prepared for this year's draft to be a little all over the place, less predictable,'' Sumner conceded. "So to see a guy like this still there when we were picking really excited us.

"He has an ability to impact games. You watch him play junior hockey and he's almost trying to win the game every shift. He's really leaving it all out on the ice, you can't help but appreciate how he competes and plays for his team.

"In his own age group, strength isn't an issue. But coming from junior into the NHL, it's a different level altogether.

"He's a guy that continually impressed."

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