It looks like the Vancouver Canucks aren’t the only team giving up on Olli Juolevi this year.
The series of events first unfolded on Saturday morning when hockey insider Elliotte Friedman took to Twitter, sharing that Juolevi had been placed on waivers by the Florida Panthers.
Just under 24 hours later, both Friedman and fellow reporter Frank Seravelli confirmed that Juolevi had been claimed by the Detroit Red Wings, marking his third NHL home within the year.
Originally drafted fifth overall back in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Juolevi was forced to face a ton of pressure from the passionate fanbase, who were currently in the process of dealing with a full-scale rebuild for their club.
The Helsinki native did look quite strong with the London Knights prior to being drafted, notching nine goals and 33 assists in 57 games, but found himself on a gradual decline for the next few years when the team could’ve used him the most.
It also didn’t help to see who was drafted after Juolevi.
Most fans will immediately look to Flames’ forward Matthew Tkachuk, who was selected immediately after Juolevi, but it’s even more painful to see which blueliners were still left on the board, including Mikhail Sergachev, Charlie McAvoy, Jacob Chychrun and Samuel Girard.
All four of these defencemen have managed to play over 250 games in the NHL, while Tkachuk has already notched 137 goals and 205 assists in 403 games. Only Auston Matthews has amassed more points so far.
Not all the blame can be put on Juolevi, who suffered a string of serious back, hip and knee injuries all before the age of 21 that significantly sidelined him in Utica. Juolevi was also greatly impacted during Vancouver’s drastic COVID-19 outbreak last season, apparently losing 10-15 pounds according to former General Manager Jim Benning.
Despite the outbreak, Juolevi did still manage to play for the Canucks during their condensed season, suiting up for 23 NHL games.
However, health issues aside, it was clear that Juolevi wasn’t able to live up to his first round hype, registering just three points in those appearances while also barely scraping by as a third-pairing defenceman for the Canucks.
Things went from bad to worse for Juolevi during the team’s most recent training camp, literally falling victim to the infamous Canuck bag skate.
Juolevi was dealt to Florida just under two weeks later in exchange for Juho Lammikko and Noah Juulsen.
The 23-year-old did manage to suit up for 10 games with the Panthers, but failed to register a single point before being placed on IR, making Benning’s final trade in Vancouver more and more successful.
So far, Juulsen has recorded 16 points with the Vancouver organization, including two assists with the main club, while Lammiko has emerged as a strong fourth-line centre, establishing consistent chemistry with Tyler Motte and Matthew Highmore while also adding six goals and six assists to his name.
Juolevi will join former Canuck Troy Stecher, who is on the final season of his two-year deal that he signed with Detroit back in June 2020. Both blueliners are set to become unrestricted free agents this summer.
Detroit will also be making an appearance at Rogers Arena on March 17th, so we’ll have to wait and see if Juolevi will make his big return. Puck drop is set for 7:00pm PST.
What are your thoughts on Juolevi being claimed off of waivers? Let us know in the comments!