Photo Credit: Minas Panagiotakis - Getty Images

Roster Down The Road: The 2nd Pair

I’d love to be able to tell you guys differently, but BC is still on fire… So, as Canuck fans patiently wait for the smoke to subside, we continue to eagerly await the arrival of Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, and other notable prospects in the Vancouver system. With this current group of future prospects and current young players, I wondered if the Canucks could build a contender from within. Going through the system, I came to the realization it’s entirely possible. I’ve come up with a roster of young players that the Canucks could see in their lineup by 2022-2023 (When the Jay Beagle and Antoine Roussel contracts expire).

For this exercise, we will only be using players already in the Canucks system, and we won’t be contemplating any new young players the Canucks could potentially draft (Sorry Jack Hughes). Finally, we’re going to use the Sporting News prospect ranking the most, as CanucksArmy haven’t released their pre season prospect list quite yet. We’ve touched on the goaltenders, and in the last piece I went over who would round out the top 6. Today, I’m going to touch on my ideal shutdown pair for the Canucks in 2022-2023.


Left Wing 1 – Center 1 – Right Wing 1
Left Wing 2 – Center 2 – Right Wing 2

Left Wing 3 – Center 3 – Right Wing 3
Left Wing 4 – Center 4 – Right Wing 4

Wildcard F 1

Left Defense 1 – Right Defense 1
Left Defense 2 – Right Defense 2
Jack Rathbone – Jalen Chatfield

Toni Utunen  – Matt Brassard


Thatcher Demko

Michael DiPietro


2nd Pair D Men

Left Defense #2

Olli Juolevi

(Photo Creds to Bruce Bennett/Vancouver Sun)


Decided to switch things up and start on the left side today, and low and behold here’s Olli Juolevi. A much maligned Canucks prospect from the moment he was taken with the 5th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry draft over fellow London Knights prospect Matthew Tkachuk. Now, it’s not Juolevi’s fault he was drafted 5th overall, and I’m not going to fault him for the selection; only talk about what he has going for him, what I believe his role will be on this 2022-2023 team, and why he’ll be an important piece moving forward. Juolevi’s going to make it in the NHL, and I’m going on record saying he’s going to be a top 4 defenseman. Olli Juolevi is 5th on the top 10 of Sporting News Canucks prospect list, behind only 1 other defenseman in the Canucks system in Quinn Hughes. Juolevi’s ability in the neutral zone to break up plays, and immediately utilize his brilliant transition game will be his calling cards. His offensive toolkit is better than most give him credit for, and the work he put in with Sami Salo in the defensive end while with TPS Turku will show as soon as this upcoming year. Ideally, Juolevi pans out as a better version of prime Alex Edler (Lots of similar comparisons between current players and the prospects, hmmm) without the obvious gaffs that have plagued Edler during his time with the club. Down below will be statistics and a highlight video for Olli Juolevi.

(Olli Juolevi’s stats from his draft year while in the OHL, courtesy of Eliteprospects.com)

More switches to the series for Juolevi, I’m not going to go super in depth into his statistics as Canucks fans have DISSECTED him. Everyone wonders what he’ll become, who he is, is he a bust, and so forth. This past year while with TPS Turku, he really came alive in the second half of the season, and that was brought up by Sami Salo, and his quotes are down below.

Putting a team on your shoulders is a lot of weight on your back, and that cheesy pun leads us to the fact that Juolevi underwent a back surgery this offseason. It’s impressive enough to hear Salo come out and admit that Juolevi was the number 1 D man for the team when they had someone go down. Meaning Juolevi was a force on both special teams, and soaking up a ton of minutes. The news of the back surgery also begs the questions how much better COULD he have been last year, and how long was he playing with the back injury that required surgery. With this line of thinking, I’m all the more impressed with his strong showing during the 2nd half of the 2017-2018 season after another incredible showing at the World Junior championships. Last point, I hear people saying Juolevi needs to get acclimated with North American ice, but I don’t believe that will be an issue. He played 2 seasons of major junior with the London Knights before last year, and he played in Buffalo this year at the WJC.

Juolevi would be the best left side defenseman on the Canucks roster in 2022-2023 IN THE DEFENSIVE ZONE. Juolevi’s game is effortless, and while he’s been criticized before for looking like he’s disengaged, that won’t be the case after working with Salo and understanding how tough it is to make the NHL. Juolevi will also be entering his prime at the age of 24, becoming a huge factor at even strength, and on the penalty kill unit. For all the talk, all the negativity surrounding Olli; we gotta remind ourselves that not all defenseman break into the league at 18/19 years old. It’s ok for Juolevi to have been taking his time developing in the Canucks system even after being drafted 5th overall, hell Matthias Ohlund didn’t play his 1st NHL game until his D + 4 season at the age of 21 and he was pretty darn good. Juolevi will become a top 4 defenseman for this team, anchoring the 2nd pair and making the selection look MILES better than how it looks right now. For this season, although I believe Juolevi is ready to play in the NHL on opening night, the best course of action should be to start him in Utica for the 1st part of the season. Then, when he shows he’s ready for the bigs, bring him up full time and have him play as a Vancouver Canuck. He’ll be with the team full time by 2019-2020 and rocking the 2nd pair and the penalty kill, while possibly getting some time on the PP2.

Right Defenseman #2

Nikita Tryamkin (Left shot)

(Photo creds to Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY sports)


A take hotter than the fire’s blazing in BC (OK, not really) Nikita Tryamkin slots in as the right side defenseman on the 2nd pair in 2022-2023. The towering 6’7 defenseman drafted in the 3rd round of the 2014 NHL entry draft, Tryamkin is a player in the Canucks system unique in every way. For a 6’7 defenseman he’s fairly mobile, has a great slap shot, and uses his long reach to get his stick in passing lanes opposing forwards may not suspect. He’s also able to throw the body, and while he’s not a nasty player he knows how to use his size to his advantage. Due to Tryamkin having already played a full season with the Canucks, he doesn’t count as a prospect anymore, but we are going to delve into how he did in Russia this past year. There have been rumours that Tryamkin won’t return unless he’s given a top 4 spot on the Canucks blue line, and even next season that wouldn’t be an issue for the Canucks (talent wise). Down below are his statistics and a highlight video.

(Tryamkin’s stats from when he first appeared with the Canucks via Eliteprospects.com)


Tryamkin was an all star in the KHL this past season with his hometown team Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg in addition to being an assistant captain. The gentle giant also made a point of trying to shoot more as his season went along, which in turn helped develop his offensive game to a level that should make Canucks fans giddy for when he arrives. There is so much to like about what Tryamkin brings to a defense core, and it was a surprise that we didn’t see Tryamkin named to the Russian Olympic team that won gold in South Korea this past tournament. While the snub may raise red flags, his 2 defenseman of the month awards this past year quickly shoot them down. His ability in the defensive zone is going to be his trademark, and helped him earn the ice time he felt he deserved when with the Canucks in 2016-2017. As such, his ability to play both sides of the blue line makes him incredibly valuable to my roster.

Now, as much as we’re talking about his development we have to understand there have to be circumstances that lead to him coming back. He’ll play the next 2 seasons in the KHL with Avtomobilist, before being allowed to sign another contract with the Canucks who own his rights when Tryamkin’s contract runs out on April 30, 2020. Tryamkin has stated that he is open to returning to the NHL, and the Canucks for that matter.

“I’m still interested how the team plays,” Tryamkin said. “Would I like to come back? Why not. It depends on many factors.” (Janik Beichler of Daily Hive)

So come 2021-2022 when he’d be allowed to step onto the Canucks roster again, I would offer him top 4 minutes with a role on the penalty kill. My line of thinking is this entices him to come back, and he does just that. Featuring as Juolevi’s D partner on the 2nd pair and leading one of the penalty kill units.

Now, I know there are a few of you who don’t believe Tryamkin will return. If Tryamkin DOESN’T return, my pick for Juolevi’s defense partner would be Troy Stecher. I’m not going to go into too much detail, but a couple reasons I have Tryamkin over Stecher and Stecher not on my main roster is:

  1. My Canucks roster already has 2 undersized defenseman on it that I feel do a better job of creating offense than Troy.
  2. The Canucks would greatly benefit from a defenseman like Tryamkin on the roster. Tryamkin’s ability to play the right side made it real easy for me to put him next to a transition artist in Olli Juolevi.


I love what Troy Stecher brings, and the Richmond, BC native has a great story. However great stories don’t always equal winning Stanley Cups, and if the Canucks want the best chance to win a cup then Tryamkin on their roster is the decision that should be made.

The hope for this pair is a pure shutdown D pair that can quickly transition the puck up to the forwards, even against the best competition in the NHL. Juolevi’s ability to break up plays in the neutral zone and make great breakout passes, while Tryamkin digs the puck out of the corners, clears the front of the net, and uses his skating ability to close distances quickly creates a tough puzzle to crack for opposing offenses. Both players defensive abilities compliment each other greatly, and both have enough offensive tools to be dangerous in the other end to help facilitate offensive chances. Tryamkin will get the minutes he seeks for his return, while Juolevi puts the bust label to rest. This 2nd pair will be a core component to a contending Canucks team, with both playing over 20 minutes a night against the McDavid’s, Crosby’s, and other top end players in the NHL.

    • Bud Poile

      Rick Dhaliwal
      ‏ @DhaliwalSports
      Apr 23
      Salo on Juolevi, “He had a really good year, he improved in the areas he needed, like in the defensive zone. He had a great playoff, he carried the team after we lost a key defenseman. He took the team on his shoulders, we were really happy with his development.” #Canucks

      Rick Dhaliwal
      ‏ @DhaliwalSports
      Apr 23
      Salo on how close Juolevi is to the NHL, “His play in his own end will be the biggest hurdle I think for him. He needs a big summer, get in better physical shape, conditioning, stronger and quicker. Lots of work to be done, the next step is big.” #Canucks

  • argoleas

    I tend to agree that if Canucks would probably be hard pressed to have Hughes, Stecher, and Rathbone on the roster. Then again, with where the league is going, who knows. Size is important, but it is becoming clear that strength, positioning, and skating are king.

    I’ll say this. Tryamkin’s future with Canucks is the x-factor.

    • Whatthe...

      Agreed, if he does come back and plays like he has in the KHL (or to his abilities) he could be a huge x-factor. Beyond that, would be a big draft win for Benning.

  • argoleas

    The comparisons of Julevi to Edler are IMO apt. Another good one is to Ohlund. I think he will be better than either, and will anchor a superb shutdown pair. Now that Hughes is in the system, and will anchor the best offensive D pair, that allows Juolevi to become what he was picked for, and that is to be a shutdown Dman, and not be forced to meet unrealistic expectations of being a Sergachev-type offensive Dman. Fact is, selecting Hughes was the best thing for Juolevi’s future as a Canuck.

    You properly assembled this defensive shutdown D pair, and the next article will assemble the offensive D pair.

  • PQW

    “You can’t compete for a Stanley Cup without an elite puck moving Defenceman” (Doughty, Letang, Keith etc) – Benning

    “We’re getting a top-pairing defenseman in Juolevi” – Benning after the draft June 2016

    One Finnish scout for an NHL team insisted “Juolevi won’t be a top player in the world’s best league” – June 2018.

    Guys this crystal ball gazing is pretty pointless considering that after another year of failure Benning won’t even be GM by the year 2020 and a new charge will overhaul th roster and get rid of the Benning bust Juolevi, who was sold to the fanbase by Benning as a legit TOP PAIRING D-man… even Cole admits he isn’t one! Sergachev and McAvoy are better then, now and tomorrow FACT!

    As for Tryamkin, you dreamers are STILL fantasising that this kid is the second coming of Chara because he is big. He was terrible for the Canucks, is scared to hit, is as slow as molasses running uphill and bolted back to Russia because his wife hated Vancouver… he is NOT what this team needs on the blueline and he is gone —- ffs get over it.

    • Kess n Mess

      Agreed. Tree is yesterdays news just like Subban and Corrado. Looking four to five years down the line is a reach. Have to take into consideration management and coaching changes, the seattle expansion and what draft picks we get over that time for starters.

    • canuckfan

      Tryamkin won’t be able to make the roster if he comes back because of his fitness level. Just don’t think he liked having his fitness being the issue where the coaching staff were always on him after a few years being away his fitness would have dropped. He never really did anything special just another legend just because his play was less than average.

      • Doodly Doot

        You don’t see Stecher (you can spell his name correctly, right Cole?) on the roster? There’s no one in their current D corps more likely to consistently improve year to year. He captained one of the best teams in the BCHL, he played a significant role with UND, and beat odds to get signed by the Canucks and make the team AND contribute significantly in his first year. He’s the kind of ‘person’ that you win with. He’s Bo Horvat light on the D and a current and future leader on that 22-23 team.

  • Doodly Doot

    In five years Juolevi will likely be an excellent 2nd pair D or have been traded. I think Tryamkin is possibly a 2nd pair D but it’s maybe 50/50 that he ever plays for the Canucks again. Fun article. Thanks!

  • TimfromAnahim

    Another terrific, well thought out article. It is also my opinion that Tryamkin will come back to the Canucks (ice time bigger issue than wife’s concerns), with the off-chance he gets traded to a team playing in a city with a larger Russian community. When he does come back, he will be exactly the defenseman you envision. So will Juolevi. I do not understand the eagerness to write him off at such an early stage. It used to be that defensemen weren’t even expected to make an NHL impact until their mid-twenties. Now if they aren’t tearing it up by the time they hit 20 they’re a bust. Juolevi has the tools and just needs the time. This is an exciting pairing, and something to look forward to.

    • argoleas

      Juolevi’s misfortune was the other 3 Dmen drafted after him that have already jumped to the NHL and excelled, nevermind Tkachuk.

      Now, history may prove him being the wrong choice, but giving up on a guy 2 seasons after the draft is insanity IMO. Seems more that his track is more conventional. As very correctly pointed out above, Ohlund, one of the best Canucks Dmen of all time, did not even come over until his D+4 season. What I care is where will he be in 2-4 years, when Edler will need to be fully replaced.

    • Canuck4Life20

      I wish that I could share your optimism, but based on everything I’ve heard I don’t think we will see Tryamkin in a Canucks uniform again. I hope that I’m wrong though.

    • Canuck4Life20

      Tryamkin obviously has all the tools to be a top-4 defenceman, but I’m not sure if he has the heart to make it in the NHL. He had such an amazing opportunity in front of him but chose to walk away from it because he didn’t want to put the work in.

      • Puck Viking

        Or because he didnt like the coach and was sick of being told he had to be a fighter and then got paid more to play in russia so ya you kind of forgot to mention that too.. not sure what any of that has to do with heart..

        • Canuck4Life20

          I didn’t mention that he gets paid more in Russia because there is zero evidence that that is the case. In fact when asked if he got paid more by Avtomobilist his (translated) response was “I didn’t go back home for the money.” Maybe you have a source that I can’t find, but I have a hard time believing Tryamkin is making more money in the KHL than he could if he had stayed in the NHL when you consider the fact that most players don’t even crack $1 mill.

        • Silverback

          If you quit because you don’t like the coach or don’t like how he deploys you, or may give up on an opportunity to play in the best league in the world, I’d say that has a lot to do with heart. Tryamkin may or may not return to the Canucks, but hopefully if he does, we will have a more mature and somewhat wiser version of him.

          • Bud Poile

            It sounded as though his wife’s influence was a major component of his departure.
            He’ll be contractually able to return in another two years,at age 25.
            Monetarily and professionally there are greater returns in the NHL.
            Whether that is the most important objectives of the Tryamkin family in two years is debatable.
            He could also allow his obligations to Vancouver to simply transpire and sign wherever he likes.
            What’s the odds he chooses to return here vs. a sunshine state with better tax incentives?

  • bobdaley44

    Juolevi will be a better all-round D than Hughes and get the tougher matchups. Hughes of course will be the better power play guy but Juolevi will be able to contain down low in his own end. Hughes will lose a lot of physical battles.

    • Puck Viking

      Agree. Id like to have an offensive defense unit that gets the majority of O zone starts then have a shutdown pair. On the third pair it be nice to have a solid PP2 QB and a Shutdown guy from PK to take some of the pressure off the other guys. I think Hughes will be top 5 in defense scoring in just a few years.

    • Lemmy Kilmister

      I see where your logic is on the physical battles however, the trend now going with speed, faster transition breakouts and smaller skilled forwards being a bigger part of teams now the times of being “pasted on the boards” from a power forward is less and less. His strongest ability is to anticipate the play ahead of time in both zones which IMO will make him better all around D-Man in the mold of Phil Houlsey or the cheap shot artist Duncan Keith

      • bobdaley44

        In some cases i agree with you but net front battles or when opposing teams are cycling you need physical containment. If you think the league is going all speed you’re mistaken. Look at the finalist D core and you’ll notice they were all big, strong and also mobile. I’m salivating if I’m LA or Anaheim going up against Stethcher, Pouliot and Hughes. Size still matters but now mobility is a must.

  • speering major

    What kind of contract options will they have with Tryamkin? If they sign him for a short term deal will he be a RFA or UFA? I like Tryamkin and hope he comes back but I hate the idea of having to lock him up for term right away.

    Although his situation is a bit different, it’s still a big red flag to show up to camp massively over weight and then leave the league and a contract on the table at the end of the season. Maybe he’s going to be a problem going forward but maybe not. It’s a red flag though. I would like to see Tryamkin signed for a season before committing.

  • Burnabybob

    Hopefully the Canucks will draft a good RHD over the next couple of years, so we won’t have to worry about Tryamkin returning or not. The Canucks have suffered with Russian malcontents in the past (Bure, Krutov) and they drain energy and focus from the team.

    • truthseeker

      You know….I was never a big fan of Tony Gallagher and his negativity, but the fact is his reporting proved it was the canucks who were to blame for Bure, and he was no malcontent.

      they won’t let me link to the province articles but just google Bure Gallagher and Botchford (for this article: B.C. Hall of Fame: Tony Gallagher stories were revered, cheered, jeered, sometimes feared)

      You really believe the Griffith’s canucks wouldn’t pull garbage like that? I know Quinn is the hero in vancouver and in many ways it’s deserved but I have no doubt that this is the kind of crap management would pull with players especially in a small market (at the time) like Vancouver. Same kind of garbage game playing that cost them Gretzky.

      • DeL

        Agreed and the bs started for Bure from the minute they landed in LA and were left on their own for ten days with no support plus they could barely speak english; then the Canucks tried to stiff him in contract negotiations by trying to pay him in Canadian dollars when every player in the NHL was being paid in US greenbacks. Malcontent? Hardly they were lucky to keep him as long as they did.

      • Beer Can Boyd

        And if they can do that to the greatest player in Canucks history, they can do it to Tryamkin. He was watching scrubs like Biega dress ahead of him, while being told he needed to fight. I’m hoping that he comes back and gets used correctly, cause d-men like him do not grow on trees.

        • truthseeker

          yeah, but I think with Tryamkin the truth is somewhere more in the middle. I don’t think he’s completely blameless for his situation. There did seem like some self entitlement there.

          • Burnabybob

            The Canucks did honor his wish to go straight to the big club. And it’s natural that they wanted a guy like him to play with an edge, the way other teams take liberties with their smaller players.

  • 2 minutes

    The video highlites of Juolevi are very reassuring. those sharp angle goals, and the pinpoint passing to teammates in traffic, speak volumes about his abilities. I don’t think that he’s going to be kept out of the NHL for long. If he does start in Utica, he’ll be a first call up, when injuries hit. I AM GROOT! I really hope Tryamkin and the Canucks come to an agreement, and he comes back to play here. A couple for defensemen that can hit powerfully, makes for nervous forwards in the corners.