Vancouver Canucks prospects ranking Top 20: #3 Olli Juolevi

MONTREAL, QC - DECEMBER 26: Olli Juolevi
MONTREAL, QC - DECEMBER 26: Olli Juolevi /
facebooktwitterreddit

Do the Vancouver Canucks have enough star power in their prospects to sufficiently replace the Sedin twins?

The Vancouver Canucks have accumulated quality prospects through the trade market and the draft. This is undoubtedly the best pool of prospects this team has had in recent memory and it will continue to get better next year as the Canucks will look to get yet another top pick in the 2018 Entry Draft.

But in today’s NHL in which skaters peak in their mid-20s and stars like Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews emerge in their teen years, top prospects don’t have until age 25, 26 to make their NHL debuts.

Do the Canucks have these elite prospects who can contribute before long?

The truth is that the rebuild cannot carry on forever. Looking back to how the Edmonton Oilers were before the arrival of McDavid, we know that time isn’t the omnipotent answer for the development of young NHL players.

For the first time since the beginning of the Sedin era in Vancouver, the Canucks may have elite prospects who could turn out to be game-changers for many years to come.

We present to you Week 4, the conclusion of The Canuck Way 2017 Canucks Prospects Ranking. As we are taking a look at the most complete and elite prospects, let’s move away from the conventional look at the strengths and weaknesses to a more holistic analysis of these prospects.

The Canuck Way 2017 Canucks Prospects Ranking

Our TCW staff ranked all Canucks prospects. The criteria: whatever each writer thinks is important. Current position in the organization, talent, potential, and chance of NHL success. All prospects under 24 years of age were considered as long as they did not spend significant time in the NHL.

At No. 3, we take a look at the highest-ranked prospect defenseman in the Canucks system, Olli Juolevi.

vancouver canucks
MONTREAL, QC – DECEMBER 26: Olli Juolevi /

No. 3 D Olli Juolevi

Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 190+ lbs
DOB: 1998-05-05 (Age 21)
Drafted: 5th Overall, 2016

2016-17 Stats: 58GP – 10G – 42PTS – 36PIM (OHL, London Knights)

Canucks fans were disappointed when the lottery balls lined up and Auston Matthews was lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Winnipeg took home Patrik Laine and Pierre-Luc Dubois was taken by the Columbus Blue Jackets, resulting in Jesse Puljujarvi going to the Edmonton Oilers. It felt like a total disaster for the Canucks, seeing Edmonton end up with both Connor McDavid and Puljujarvi in quick order.

When the Canucks passed on Matthew Tkachuk, a new level of depression set in for many fans. Tkachuk went on to have a wonderful rookie campaign with the rival Calgary Flames.

Many see Olli Juolevi already as an unwise selection for the Canucks. Many note that Mikhail Sergachev is the better defender and point to the trade that judged Sergachev’s value at that of Jonathan Drouin‘s.

Would Juolevi have fetched the same return as the one who was selected four picks after he was? I’m not so sure.

What I am sure is that Juolevi is the best defence prospect for the Canucks and that is not a bad thing at all.

“As smart as can be”

Juolevi is a smart defensive defenseman. Even though the Juolevi may be selected lower than fifth overall in a re-do of the 2016 draft, he will still likely be considered the smartest defenseman. He doesn’t contribute much offensively but he is quite instrumental in the transition game because of his ability to process the game at a such a high speed.

Being smart means that Juolevi always makes the high-percentage play that will cause the least risk for his team. His vision is superb so his playmaking abilities earn him time on the power play unit.

More from The Canuck Way

His patience with the puck results in passing lanes that allow him to make beautiful cross-ice feeds that result in scoring opportunities.

Juolevi moves the puck with authority and never panics. Juolevi’s shot is not so bad, either. After working with Sami Salo this past summer, expect that to get better.

Juolevi is a very good skater. Though he doesn’t have blistering speed, he skates well enough to be a good mobile defenseman in the NHL. He skates well both ways, giving him the ability to skate the puck out of danger when passing it out of danger is not an option.

The Finnish defender’s poise is top-notch and he is rarely out of position. His stick is effective, thanks to his long reach that come from that lanky 6-foot-3 frame. That lanky frame now has good muscle on it.

According to the Canucks, Juolevi reported to camp at over 190 pounds. When he played at the Summer Showcase, his added weight seemed to give him more authority in front of the net without hurting his skating abilities.

Though Juolevi has never been a crushing hitter, he will want to get working on using his heavier body to his advantage physically.

Is Juolevi NHL-ready? Is Vancouver ready for Juolevi?

Following the upcoming Young Stars Tournament, the Canucks will have a decision to make regarding a Juolevi that is almost certainly physically ready to meet the demands of the NHL. Will Juolevi be allowed to stay with the Canucks or will he return to London to play his third season in the Juniors?

Or will the Canucks let him go overseas to Finland to potentially unite him with player-turned-coach Salo? All three options are viable, but looking at the moves that Vancouver has made this July in free agency, Juolevi will likely have to settle for another year outside the NHL.

The addition of Michael Del Zotto and Patrick Wiercioch, as well as the return of Andrey Pedan and the signing of Philip Holm, all look like moves that Canucks made, quite frankly, to keep Juolevi out of the NHL at all costs.

Statistically, Juolevi does not impress in any category traditionally measured. He is, however, always in the conversation as the top defenseman for Team Finland at the World Juniors. Could it be that Juolevi’s lack of production is undermining our assessment of him as a true defensive defenseman whose ability to deny the opposition is already NHL-ready?

Next: Prospects Ranking Top 20 - #4 G Thatcher Demko

– 2017 TheCanuckWay Prospects Ranking Top 20 –

#4 – G Thatcher Demko
#5 – LW Jonathan Dahlen

#6 – RW Nikolay Goldobin
#7 – RW Kole Lind
#8 – C Adam Gaudette

#9 – RW Jake Virtanen
#10 – LW Jonah Gadjovich
#11 – D Jordan Subban

#12 – F William Lockwood

#13 – G Michael DiPietro
#14 – D Guillaume Brisebois
#15 – D Evan McEneny

#16 – F Petrus Palmu

#17 – D Jack Rathbone

#18 – D Jalen Chatfield
#19 – F Cole Cassels

#20 – D Kristoffer Gunnarsson
The Honourable Mentions

Did you know that Chris Tanev has not had more than 10 goals a season at any point in his professional and junior career? Even in his NCAA days, Tanev did not score more than 30 points a season. Here is Juolevi who is showing a strong and accurate shot on top of solid defensive abilities. Is Tanev worked, why can’t Juolevi work?

Olli Juolevi may be better than we feel that he is.