Juolevi: ‘it’s awesome to be going to Vancouver’

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Photo Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY Sports

BUFFALO, NY – Olli Juolevi has done a lot of winning in
2016. 

He was part of Finland’s World Junior team that struck gold on home ice
in January. He was part of a London Knights team that won the Ontario Hockey
League title and then claimed the Memorial Cup a month ago. On Friday night, he
experienced another victory of sorts, as the top defenseman selected in the
National Hockey League entry draft when he was nabbed fifth overall by the
Vancouver Canucks.

The Canucks opted for the 18-year-old from Helsinki after
their initial target coming into the draft Pierre Luc Dubois of Cape Breton was
taken third overall by Columbus. When Jesse Pulujarvi fell to Edmonton with the
fourth pick, the Canucks were left to decide between Juolevi and his London
teammate Matthew Tkachuk.

The Canucks opted for the blueliner.

 “Oh yeah, it’s
awesome to be going to Vancouver,” the personable Juolevi told the media in the
interview area at the First Niagara Center. “It’s a great city. I was at the
Top Prospects game in Vancouver and I saw how great the city is and how much
they love hockey. It’s awesome.”

Juolevi , who was rated fifth among North American skaters
by NHL Central Scouting in the season-ending rankings, had nine goals and 42
points for the high-scoring Knights in his first season in North America. Yesterday,
Canucks general manager Jim Benning said he felt one defenseman in the draft
had separated himself from the others and tonight, he made it clear Juolevi was
that player when he called his name at the podium.

For his part, Juolevi claims he wasn’t worried about where
he was going to in relation to the others in the draft. He just wanted to hear
his name called as early as possible.

“Of course you hope that,” he said of being the top
defenseman. “You’re always hoping to go as high as you can. It’s weird how
drafts go, so you never know what’s going to happen. I was just ready when
someone called my name and I’m so happy that it’s Vancouver.”

The selection of Juolevi marks the first time the Canucks
have used a first round selection on a defenseman since the team took the late
Luc Bourdon tenth overall in 2005. The 6’2” and 185 pounder immediately shoots
to the top of a Canucks defensive depth chart that has been sorely lacking for
a while now. Although Juolevi may not project as a true number-one
game-changer, he is considered the type of player who can contribute in all
areas of the ice. A confident kid, he’s hoping to prove he can play in the NHL as
early as next season.

“That’s my goal,” he said confidently. “I think everybody
that goes in the top ten or so, they have to work so hard this summer. And that’s
my attitude. I want to play in this league next year and I want to come to
training camp and show what I’ve got. I think I’m an offensive defenseman but I
can play a two-way game and in all situations, but my offensive assets are my
biggest threat.”

Juolevi was joined at the draft by his parents and his two
brothers. He drew laughs when he claimed he couldn’t recall if he had ever met
former Knight and current Canuck Bo Horvat. He continued with the humour
closing his media availability demonstrating perfect use of comedic timing that
will serve him well in a hockey-mad market like Vancouver.

“I’m just happy to be a Vancouver Canuck and now I have to go
out there and work my,” he said pausing for dramatic effect as he considered
his options to complete the sentence, “hardest.”

The big smile crossing his face said it all. It’s been a
good year for Olli Juolevi. It got even better on Friday night when he was the
fifth overall selection in the NHL Draft and his hockey future came into focus.

  • EddyC

    Olli looks like to be a mainstay at the D line for a long time to come. Hoping he has a productive career like Ohlund.

    It’s nice to see that he already has media savy at such a young age.

    Welcome to mad house Vancouver market place Olli!

  • Rolland

    I had a feeling PLD wouldn’t last until the fifth pick, but was a little shocked when CBJ grabbed him.

    I figured JB would pick Tkachuk since the left side is completely lacking depth.

    When he picked Juolevi I was shocked again but after some thought and seeing 8 dmen taken in the first 20 picks I’m on board with the decision.

    This kid at eighteen has already done a lot of winning and I think will be a great addition.
    Time will tell but I trust Benning when he claimed that this was the best D available in this draft.

    We passed up on some good offensive players, Tkachuk, Keller, and Nylander, but JB drafted to need and you can’t fault him for that.

  • andyg

    Meanwhile Toronto drafts Matthews, Wnnipeg nabs Laine and the Flames add both Tkachuk And goalie Elliot, oh and did I mention the Oilers get stud Puljujarvi.

  • Rolland

    Not a sexy pick with high end offensive skills, but a 6’2 dman with smarts/two-way ability is a nice change of pace for the Canucks.

    I’m warming up to this pick….slowly.

  • Rolland

    On Oiler and Flames sites one has to register and have an account to comment. I just typed in a bogus name and bogus e-mail and I can troll or use someones ID freely on this site. Is this an oversight or is the nation encouraging these idiots to disrupt this site?

    • Rolland

      And that is why no one is there except sock puppets and PR staffers.

      And you’re right, there are no trolls when people have to have an account to comment. Just look at youtube… no trolls there, mate.

  • Rolland

    It was a need to have a future 1st pair Dman and I like the kids attitude and upside. That said JB was scouting PLD and also must have known that the Jackets also wanted him makes me wonder if JB even talked to the Jackets management about a trade? Oilers took Puljujarvi because he was available at 4 instead of trading down to take a Dman or taking Tkachuck{?}.

    Canucks were 28th in scoring last year and Puljujvari would look good on a Canucks forward line with the other young guy’s.

  • Rolland

    Juolevi is not the fun pick, it’s never fun to draft a defenseman unless he has crazy offensive numbers. It seems like Calgary was going to take Juolevi until Tkachuk became available so time will tell who wins here. He will be a solid addition to Vancouver coming from a Flames fan….

  • EddyC

    List of first dmen taken off the board in their draft years…

    #3 Drew Doughty
    #2 Victor Hedman
    #3 Erik Gudbranson
    #4 Adam Larsson
    #2 Ryan Murray
    #4 Seth Jones
    #1 Arron Ekblad
    #5 Noah Hanifin
    #5 Olli Juolevi

    Solid group.