The Vancouver Canucks announced on Friday that the club has signed 2016 first-round draft pick Olli Juolevi.
There was some concern over the past few weeks that the Vancouver Canucks might not be able to sign their first selection of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Olli Juolevi. One possible reason for the holdout is that picks one through four signed very similar entry-level contracts while there is a steep drop-off starting with pick six. That might be true, but the most important thing is that Juolevi is finally locked up.
From the official press release:
"Vancouver, BC – Vancouver Canucks General Manager Jim Benning announced today that the club has signed defenceman Olli Juolevi to a three-year entry level contract.“Olli is a talented all-around defenceman with high hockey sense who will be a big part of our organization’s future,” said Jim Benning. “He’s had an outstanding year, winning the Memorial Cup and World Junior gold. We look forward to seeing him continue his development and compete at the NHL level during training camp in September.”"
According to GeneralFanager.com, Juolevi’s contract has an annual average of $1.975 million. All signed top-10 picks from this year’s draft, including Juolevi, have a base salary of the maximum $925,000. However, Juolevi is far closer to Matthew Tkachuk’s annual average ($1.775 million) than to Jesse Puljujarvi’s ($3.425 million).
Per GeneralFanager.com, Juolevi has $850,000 in “Schedule A” bonuses each season and $600,000 in “Schedule B” bonuses in the 2017-18 season included in his contract. The latter part is what drags the overall value down.
If you are not familiar with bonuses in entry-level contracts, “Schedule B” bonuses are those awarded for “league-wide” excellence. For example, Juolevi might get “Schedule B” bonus payments for being a Norris Trophy finalist or ranking in the top 10 in the league for points.
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As you can see, players on entry-level contracts are unlikely to reach many of those achievements. If they do, however, they are worth every penny.
But what can we even expect from Juolevi?
According to Trevor Linden, Juolevi will likely go back to play another season with the OHL London Knights. Now that he is signed and the Canucks actually have a say in where Juolevi plays, that is still the most likely scenario.
After winning pretty much everything there is to win in major junior hockey, the question is how much there is left to gain in London. Even if the Knights won the OHL championship and even the Memorial Cup again, Juolevi might not develop as much as he would playing pro. So, this is one of the many cases where the agreement between the NHL and CHL about junior players really sucks.
That said, bringing players along slowly never hurts. Unless Juolevi made huge strides over the summer, coming into training camp as a sure-fire NHL defenseman, it wouldn’t make sense to rush him. He can be a leader on one of the best teams in junior hockey and develop in a winning environment, which would be unlikely in Vancouver.
Now that Juolevi is signed, however, the Canucks can give him up to a nine-game trial to start the season. There’s certainly nothing forcing them to do that, but it’s a nice option to have.
At the end of the day, the only takeaway from the signing is that Juolevi likely isn’t going back to Europe. The option is still there, but Linden called the OHL the most likely scenario and the Canucks now have the last word.
One thing we know for sure is that Juolevi will don the Canucks orca for the first time at the Penticton Young Stars Classic in September!