Vancouver Canucks: Olli Juolevi Among 5 Players Cut from Preseason Roster

Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports /

The Vancouver Canucks have trimmed their preseason roster by five ahead of Thursday’s matchup against the Calgary Flames.

Five more players have seen their time with the Vancouver Canucks‘ preseason roster come to an end, as we get closer to the opening-night roster.

There were reports yesterday that the Canucks would gain some clarity on the blue line.

None of those moves have happened yet, but the Canucks did send one defenseman back to his junior team: 2016 first round pick Olli Juolevi is headed back to the London Knights for his sophomore season in the Ontario Hockey League. Juolevi is only 18 years old and the Canucks have no plans to rush him to the NHL level before he is ready. Under head coach Dale Hunter, Juolevi will be relied on as a key part of the Knights’ blue line, as they look to repeat as OHL champions, and will be working on building his physical strength.

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Centre Dmitry Zhukenov did not participate in any action in the Young Stars Tournament or the preseason as he recovers from a leg injury. Being around the Canucks medical staff and getting practice time with the Canucks will likely benefit him when he returns to the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Zhukenov will be the second-line centre behind the QMJHL’s leading scorer from last year, Nic Roy.

Centre James Sheppard was brought in on a professional tryout deal to challenge Markus Granlund for the fourth-line centre role but was overshadowed by Brendan Gaunce throughout the preseason. He will be in tough to get an NHL gig this year unless a team is decimated by injuries. There are certainly teams that are battling injuries but it remains to be seen if any will be desperate enough to take a flier on him.

Winger Joseph LaBate was another player who overshadowed Sheppard in the preseason and he couldn’t even make the roster this year. The forward from Eagan, Minnesota, did everything the Canucks asked him to do in the preseason. Whether he was crushing Matthew Tkachuk, fighting Micheal Ferland or scoring goals, he was everywhere. Don’t be surprised if he’s back on the main club throughout the year.

Winger Borna Rendulic wasn’t as noticeable as LaBate but still had a good camp. He’s a big body at 6-foot-2 and 201 pounds and will likely thrive in the AHL. Rendulic, the first Croatian-born player to play in the NHL, has 14 games of NHL experience and a goal and assist to show for it.

He spent most of last year with the San Antonio Rampage and although he put up decent numbers, he didn’t enjoy his time in the AHL because he felt he wasn’t learning anything there. That shouldn’t be an issue under head coach Travis Green who has been developing NHLers for the last five years with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL and the Utica Comets.

Next: Vancouver Canucks Must Learn from past Season

The Vancouver Canucks will likely start the season with 13 forwards, eight defensemen and two goalies. That means that six forwards, three defensemen and a goaltender are left to be cut. It will certainly be an interesting few days ahead as the Canucks prepare for their opening-night match-up with the Calgary Flames.