No. 3: D Olli Juolevi (TPS, Liiga)
Olli Juolevi played in three games this week and scored as many points. His offence is coming a lot more consistently now as he has scored in six of his last eight games, recording a total of nine points in that span.
In other words, Juolevi has scored at a pace of 1.13 points per game this season in Liiga after his first four games.
To put that into context, there is only one U24 Liiga defenceman who is scoring at a higher pace than Juolevi, and that is Miro Heiskanen, the third-overall pick by the Dallas Stars from this year’s draft.
In the forty years of Liiga history, only fifteen U24 blueliners have managed to score at a higher pace than Juolevi’s thus far.
A Second Look at Juolevi’s Offence
Perhaps Juolevi isn’t the defensive dynamo that everyone thought the Canucks had drafted. Maybe he has a lot more offence to offer. Maybe this is a similar developmental path for Juolevi that Bo Horvat took; everyone thought he was going to be a defence-first second-line guy but now he is pushing himself to be a legitimate top-six scoring NHL centreman.
Some of this revived offence from Juolevi may be the influence of former Canuck Sami Salo, the assistant coach in TPS. Salo shares similar thoughts about Juolevi’s game that might not be all defence.
But as everyone has been saying about Juolevi all along, he still figures to be a top NHL prospect despite his lacklustre season last year.
It may seem like aeons ago when Juolevi was drafted, perhaps thanks to the long and gruelling season the Canucks went through last year. He still is just 19 years old, though. That is why he was not able to be sent to the AHL. The Canucks have a fine blueliner in the making here, being a regular contributor with his solid wrist shot in the top league in Finland.