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Photo Credit: © Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Olli Juolevi assigned to AHL Utica

The Vancouver Canucks made seven cuts on Saturday, sending six players to the Utica Comets of the AHL and releasing Landon Ferraro from his professional tryout contract. Among the six players headed to Utica is 2016 fifth-overall overall pick, Olli Juolevi.

It isn’t at all a surprise that Juolevi didn’t make the Canucks. The 21-year-old Finn was limited to just 18 games with Utica in 2018-19 due to a knee injury. The odd thing in this situation is the fact that Juolevi, who is apparently healthy now, didn’t get any playing time during the pre-season.

A few days ago, head coach Travis Green suggested that we wouldn’t see Juolevi in camp, but also added that it wouldn’t be because of the injury. Though this does seem a little odd and potentially concerning, given the fact Juolevi is coming off surgery and intense rehab work, it makes sense that the Canucks are taking things slowly.

“Load management” is something we’ve been hearing about a lot in professional sports recently. The Toronto Raptors utilized it perfectly with Kawhi Leonard last season and it played an integral role in their NBA Championship. Juolevi isn’t Kawhi, but it goes to show how teams are actively being more conservative with players dealing with the ongoing effects of major injuries.

Obviously you’d like to see Juolevi break into the NHL in his Draft +3 season, but his timetable has been pushed back due to injury. The key for his development now will be playing major minutes in Utica, which could lead to a call-up later on in the season. Player development is a marathon, not a sprint.