Olli Juolevi (LD)
2017-18 stats (Liiga)
You have to feel for Olli Juolevi. He had a great season in Finland and ignoring how well his peers have done, he should be proud of that season. It gives him the momentum to put him on the right track for training camp and then he hits a setback.
Back surgery could not have come at a worse time. Of course, Juolevi needed the operation, but recovery put him six weeks behind everybody else’s summer training. His physical conditioning is one of his largest obstacles and the limited time to train ramps up the challenges he will face at camp.
More from The Canuck Way
- Which team won the Bo Horvat trade?
- What to expect from newcomers Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Räty
- Back to the future: How the skate uniforms became a regular Canucks’ feature night
- Canucks kick off 2023 with disappointing 6-2 loss to Islanders
- 2nd period penalty trouble sinks Canucks in 4-2 loss against Winnipeg
That said, his competition isn’t the toughest to beat out. On the left side, Juolevi would just have to surpass Ben Hutton, Derrick Pouliot and Michael Del Zotto. Looking at last year’s training camp, Juolevi had trouble taking on AHL and Junior level competition. After a year in Finland, I believe he is close to taking on what the NHL can offer.
Hopefully, his bad habits are gone in the defensive zone. Last year, his reads were slow, positioning was off and gap control was weak. That didn’t happen as often in the Finnish Liiga last year, which is a good sign.
Bold prediction time. Juolevi not only plays better than his competition, but his conditioning is up to Travis Green‘s high standards. Conditioning is an easy cop-out if the Canucks send Juolevi down. But if he is in better shape than the rest despite starting six weeks after everyone else, the well of excuses will run dry. Juolevi will get the Troy Stecher rookie treatment, but I think it won’t be long before we see him in a Canucks uniform this season.