Vancouver Canucks 2016 NHL Draft Profile: D Olli Juolevi

Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; A general view of the podium on stage before the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; A general view of the podium on stage before the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

The Vancouver Canucks are preparing for the 2016 NHL Entry Draft — and so are we.

Unfortunately, the 2015-16 season was cut short for the Vancouver Canucks, which means we have a long offseason ahead of us. Canucks GM Jim Benning and his staff will use the time to prepare next season’s roster, and the 2016 NHL Entry Draft will certainly play an important part in that process.

Vancouver started off strong in the fall of 2015 but ended the season with a thud. Thanks to their abysmal 28th rank in the league standings, the Canucks own seven picks early in each round. Benning did a great job in his first two years at the job and another successful draft could certainly help boost the rebuild.

Here at The Canuck Way, we will do our best to prepare you for the upcoming event by profiling as many draft-eligible players as we possibly can. Keep in mind that we are not saying these are players the Canucks are targeting. Instead, these are players that we think the Canucks could or should have interest in.

Today we look at London Knights defenseman Olli Juolevi.

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Name: Olli Juolevi

Position: Defense

Shoots: Left

Height, weight: 6’2″, 182 lbs

Team/League: London Knights, OHL

Stats (from







NHL CSS Ranking: 5th (North American Skaters)

Risk, Reward: 1.5/5, 4.5/5

NHL-potential: Franchise Defenseman

Draft Range: Top 10

Scouting report

"A competitive spark-plug, Olli Juolevi is a complete, all-around defenceman that can hem the opposition in their own end or make things difficult for the opposition at home; either way, he puts the pressure on and lays it on thick. A strong and balanced skater, he can rush the puck through the neutral zone with ease or backcheck with haste. Uses his size to his advantage, but knows his physical limits and plays within them. Instead of playing overly physical, he makes his presence felt by exhibiting his high-end playmaking ability and puck possession play. All-in-all, a well-rounded blueliner who thrives under pressure and can be trusted in all situations. (Curtis Joe, Elite Prospects 2016)"


Olli Juolevi is a talented puck-mover who can drive his team’s offense. He can catch his teammates in-stride with an accurate breakout pass, or lead the rush himself.

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Juolevi’s talent was on full display at the 2016 World Junior Hockey Championship in his native Finland. There, despite being one of the youngest players at the tournament (Juolevi does not turn 18 until next month), Juolevi led his team in ice time en route to a gold medal win. He finished that tournament with nine points, all assists, which tied Juolevi for the lead in points by defensemen.

Much to the chagrin of Jake Virtanen, Juolevi delivered one of his most dynamic performances of the tournament versus Team Canada. He finished the quarterfinal game against Canada with three assists, including the primary assist on the game-winning powerplay goal by Patrick Laine:

Now with the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights, Juolevi is drawing praise from the coaching staff for his hockey smarts, his smooth skating and passing prowess. These skills led him to finish third in scoring — with nine goals and 42 points — among rookie defensemen this season in the OHL.

Whether playing for his country in the one of the biggest international tournaments or for his OHL team, Juolevi has shown skill and poise which belies his years. He has shown his elite offensive talent at all levels, and scouts expect him to emerge as a dynamic player in the NHL sooner rather than later.

Juolevi is a terrific offensive player but he knows his duties in the defensive zone as well, which makes him a strong all-around player.


As with all 17-year-old players, Juolevi still has to mature physically — though at 6-foot-2 and 182 pounds he is hardly a pushover even now. Still, his coaches with the London Knights expect him to fill out his already strong frame in the next few years.

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Once Juolevi gains in strength, this should also improve his game in a second area: his shot. Juolevi views himself as a pass-first player and not a shooter. As a result, his shot is underused, and not as dangerous as it could be. Making himself a threat to shoot as well as to pass or deke would complete an already impressive offensive skillset.

Finally, his work in his own zone can improve. While competent, he can sometimes miss assignments, and sometimes loses battles for the puck along the boards.

He also may be overzealous and find himself out of position. For example, in the quarter final of the World Juniors, Canada tied the game at five when Juolevi over-pursued Brayden Point into the slot; Juolevi was then not able to recover when Point quickly passed off to Mitchell Marner, allowing Marner to walk around Juolevi and score the tying goal (see highlight video above).

Final Thoughts

With the Vancouver Canucks lacking offense, particularly from the back end, and wanting to be faster, Juolevi could prove a welcome addition.

Auston Matthews, Patrick Laine, and Jesse Puljujarvi are projected to be picked one, two and three, respectively, but the rankings become much more fluid after this trio. A number of players could be picked from fourth to sixth — and Juolevi has played himself into that group.

Next: Pascal Laberge: 2016 NHL Draft Profile

The Canucks’ draft position in the first round, combined with a continuing organizational need for productive, skilled puck-moving defensemen could make Juolevi an easy pick for Jim Benning. The draft lottery and the players available for the Canucks to pick will ultimately determine this outcome.

Regardless, Olli Juolevi promises to be an offensive sparkplug for whichever NHL team lands him.