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The defenceman is slated to play a big role for Finland at this year's tournament

by TORIE PETERSON @ToriePeterson /

Flames' 2017 first round pick Juuso Valimaki is slated to play a big role for Finland at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship.

As per Adam Kimelman of, Valimaki will captain this year's Finnish squad at the tournament, which runs Dec. 26 through Jan. 5 in Buffalo, N.Y.

"He has big-time leadership qualities," Finland coach Jussi Ahokas told Kimelman during the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Mich. "He takes charge on the ice, defends well, also can make smart plays with the puck. The big thing is on the team he is a leader, and we need those kind of guys."

Valimaki feels privileged to wear the C for the third time in his career. He has previously captained Finland's U16 and U18 teams.

"It means a lot," Valimaki told Kimelman. "It's a huge honour for my home country and playing with that jersey on and having the C, it's something special for sure. It's a really big honour.

"I think I'm a guy who leads by example. I try to be a nice guy, positive guy … not negative or yelling all the time. Before games I like to be really focused, by myself, not very loud. We have other guys who are better at that. I'm more a guy that leads by example."

The Flames selected the 18-year-old 16th overall in this summer's draft. He has spent the past two seasons with Tri-City, amassing 26 goals and 93 points through 116 regular season games. He is coming off a 19-goal, 61-point campaign.

"This 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," Flames director of amateur scouting Tod Button noted.

"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."

Video: Flames scouts discuss Calgary's 2017 first round pick

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