If you were one of the many fans hoping the Calgary Flames would get a boost to their roster during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs thanks to the appearance of former first round pick Juuso Valimaki, it sounds like you're going to be disappointed. In spite of the fact that from a competitive and developmental standpoint this would appear to be a near perfect time for Valimaki to make his return to the Flames roster it sounds like some of the league's other considerations may have forced the Flames into making a different decision.
Calgary Flames insider Eric Francis is reporting that Valimaki is "unlikely" to return to the roster due to the fact that it would effectively add one year of professional play onto his resume. You might be asking, why is more experience a bad thing? The answer is that due to the rules surrounding the upcoming addition of the Seattle expansion franchise, and more specifically the expansion draft that the franchise will be entitled to, the Flames simply cannot afford to inject Valimaki into the lineup. As things currently stand Valimaki is not eligible for the expansion draft having played in the NHL for just a single season, a 24 game stint during the 2018 - 2019 NHL regular season, but should he join the Flames for their upcoming playoff run that would change completely. Instead the 21 year old defenseman who was picked 16th overall in 2017 would be eligible and would either need to be protected by the Flames or would end up exposed in the draft.
The Flames of course do not want to lose Valimaki for nothing and furthermore they don't want to lose another player that would end up exposed in the draft should they be forced to protect Valimaki. General manager Brad Treliving of the Calgary Flames acknowledged the situation all the while expressing that the team would not be holding Valimaki back in any way.
“It’s pretty cut and dried that the eligibility rules on the expansion draft say that to be eligible you have to have played three years pro,” said Reliving as per Sportsnet. “Basically, if you play an NHL game that counts as a year pro. By the letter of the law if he doesn’t play a year of pro – and not that we’re sitting him out – he doesn’t qualify for the expansion.”
Although it may seem like Treliving is playing coy here there is good reason to believe that the Flames may not have put him in the lineup anyways. Valimaki had ACL surgery back in August of 2019 and thus far has not been medically cleared to compete, although there is still a good bit of time for him to get healthy. Whether or not he would be able to get both his body and his mind up to speed for a playoff run in the National Hockey League, especially with only 24 games of NHL experience under the rookie's belt, is also a factor the Flames will have to weigh when considering whether or not to risk using him in the postseason.