The vast majority of the hype for the 2016 NHL Entry draft has surrounded the trio of elite forward prospects: Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi. Given their talent, this isn’t too surprising; however, a talented trio of defenceman are flying under the radar as a result. HabsWorld has already examined the worth of drafting either Mikhail Sergachev or Jakob Chychrun; now it’s time to take a closer look at Olli Juolevi.
DOB: May 5, 1998 – Helsinki, Finland
Weight: 182 lbs
CSB: 3 (North American Skaters)
Hockey Prospect: 6
Future Considerations: 11
Hockey News: 6
No one improved their stock more during the 2015-16 campaign than Olli Juolevi. Despite impressive international play with Finland, Juolevi was relatively unknown until he was brought over to North America by the London Knights. London’s scouts clearly knew what they had in Juolevi, who finished 13th in defencemen scoring in the OHL and contributed significantly to Finland’s gold medal victory at the World Juniors Championship.
Like most prospects that are touted to go in the top-10, there aren’t many knocks on Juolevi’s game. Juolevi is a smooth skater, with an excellent first pass and strong possession play. He’s not the biggest player, but plays within his physical limits and is adept along on the boards. His shot is accurate, but there is room to improve in terms of speed and weight. Perhaps Juolevi’s biggest asset is one that can’t be objectively measured: his hockey IQ. Critics are unanimous in their assessment that Juolevi is a smart hockey player; his hockey IQ combined with his exceptional poise and puck-handling abilities is the reason most scouts predict that Juolevi will be the first defenceman selected in the 2016 Entry Draft.
As a left-shooting defenceman, Juolevi would have his work cut out for him to rise up the depth chart in Montreal. Given the need to fill out his rangy frame, it seems unlikely that Juolevi would make the jump to the NHL right away. A case could be made that Juolevi’s intelligence might compensate for the lack of size and professional experience; however, in all likelihood, the earliest fans would see him on the Canadiens roster would be the 2017-18 season.