Vancouver Canucks: Why Olli Juolevi is not the No. 1 Prospect

Jun 24, 2016; Buffalo, NY, USA; Olli Juolevi poses for a photo after being selected as the number five overall draft pick by the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft at the First Niagra Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 24, 2016; Buffalo, NY, USA; Olli Juolevi poses for a photo after being selected as the number five overall draft pick by the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft at the First Niagra Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jun 24, 2016; Buffalo, NY, USA; Olli Juolevi puts on a team jersey after being selected as the number five overall draft pick by the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft at the First Niagra Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports /

The Case for Olli Juolevi

Demko and Boeser were talked about a lot throughout the 2016-17 campaign. Olli Juolevi, on the other hand, is an unknown commodity for many fans. However, even if you don’t know who he is, you can be sure the Canucks got a nice player at fifth overall.

Juolevi is the highest-picked of the group, but that doesn’t automatically make him No. 1. Still, a case can be made for him as well. Juolevi is an extremely smart two-way defenseman who looked like a veteran for most of his rookie season in the Ontario Hockey League. Thanks to his outstanding skating, hockey sense and offensive skill, he has been drawing comparisons to Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman Larsson.

Related: 5 Reasons Why Juolevi Was a Great Pick

In the 2015-16 OHL playoffs, Juolevi recorded three goals and 14 points in 18 games. Furthermore, he notched nine assists in seven games at the World Junior Championship, where he won gold on a team with top-four picks Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi. Juolevi also had seven assists in four games on the road to a Memorial Cup victory. Wherever he goes, he wins — and he is a big part of the reason why.

Just about every team in the NHL is currently looking for a top-pairing defenseman, as they are extremely hard to come by. Just look at the Oilers who are stacked with elite forward talent but have been unable to find defensive help for years. The Canucks now have a top-pairing D-prospect in the system, filling an organizational need.

Juolevi plays a style that should translate very well to the NHL level. He lacks physicality, but can do a lot without it. If he can bulk up over the summer and play a good training camp, he has a good chance to get a nine-game trial to start the season. Alternatively, he could go back to the OHL, dominate for a year, and jump into the NHL a year later — it seems to be working well for Philadelphia Flyers pick Ivan Provorov.

Next: Conclusion