D Olli Juolevi, Team Finland
Though it may not be totally fair for Olli Juolevi, I think this World Juniors tournament is probably when the most Canucks fans come to love or hate Juolevi. He took a step back and worried so many Canucks fans last year in the OHL. Those who followed his progress in Finland with the TPS saw a rejuvenated Juolevi with more offensive potential who found things in his defense to improve.
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Now he has a chance to redeem himself and his Finnish squad who were dangerously close to being relegated to the second tier last year. Juolevi was the captain of the team last year and he is a likely frontrunner for the captaincy again this year.
Juolevi has had good success in the Finnish Liiga this year, playing 20 games and averaging over 18 minutes a game. He has had five goals and 14 points, good for a 0.70 points per game pace to tie Miro Heiskanen, his national team teammate and potential defensive partner. No U20 defenceman has produced more offense than Heiskanen and Juolevi’s 0.70ppg in the past 35 years in the Liiga.
Team Finland will be in the same group as Team USA and Team Canada. Though all three teams can advance to the quarterfinals, none of them will face each other in the quarters. Should they make it, they will meet in the Semis.
Others to watch on Team Finland
C Rasmus Kupari (5-foot-11, 163lbs)
The slick centreman has top-ten draft potential and is the lone draft-eligible player for Team Finland this year.