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It has not been the smoothest of summers for the Calgary Flames.
They traded for one of the worst contracts in the league in Milan Lucic. While they sent one back the other way, James Neal is a little more buyout friendly should it reach that point – a distinct possibility.
The Flames all but officially landed some needed center insurance – Sean Monahan goes MIA for a month or two every season – in Nazem Kadri before he nixed the deal. They haven't been able to pull off a backup plan.
A long-term contract extension with Matthew Tkachuk still seems far from imminent, and the team is yet to clear the cap space necessary to get something done.
Now, in addition to all that, one of their top prospects in Juuso Valimaki has been lost to injury for the foreseeable future.
Valimaki tore his ACL this past weekend. The recovery time for such an injury is quite lengthy, and it could take a *while* to get up to speed once fully healthy.
While the Flames have the talent and depth to overcome the loss of Valimaki – especially with Brodie still around – it will be felt in more ways than one.
The 20-year-old is full of talent and was a great bet to crack the lineup as a full-timer this fall. Having someone with Valimaki's potential, rather than run of the mill 'defensive defenders' who aren't actually good defensively, on the 3rd pairing would have been a big plus.
This is also really bad for Valimaki and his development. Thanks largely to injuries, Valimaki appeared in just 43 WHL games during the 2017-18 season and 44 NHL/AHL games this past year.
He's missed a lot of time to improve his craft and now even more is coming.
As far as replacing him goes, GM Brad Treliving has stated he'll be looking into external help.
Unfortunately, the Flames aren't exactly flexible financially and nobody another team is willing to part with will have anywhere close to the potential that Valimaki does.
It'll be interesting to see where Treliving goes from here. There aren't many enticing options, especially this far into the off-season.
Top-5 defensemen in the Western Conference?
Top-5 wingers in the Western Conference?
Top-5 centers in the Western Conference?
2019 player profile: T.J. Brodie
2019 player profile: Noah Hanifin
2019 player profile: Elias Lindholm
Flames (smartly) buyout Michael Stone
On the Milan Lucic trade