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Olli Juolevi has been quickly rising up our 2016 NHL Draft board. He was incredibly impressive for Team Finland at the World Juniors, moving the puck effectively, playing strong defence and putting up nine assists in seven game. Juolevi was a driving force at the back end for Finland and helped them take home the gold medal on home ice. Part of an excellent group of Finnish-born prospects, and an excellent group of draft eligible players on the London Knights, Juolevi has impressed at the OHL level as well this year. The offensive numbers aren’t eye popping but they are decent with nine goals and 42 points in 57 games. He also put up 3 assists in London’s first round playoff victory over Owen Sound.
Olli Juolevi Scouting Report: 2016 NHL Draft #7
Defense — shoots Left
Born May 5 1998 — Helsinki, Finland
Height 6’02” — Weight 180 lbs [188 cm/82 kg]
Olli Juolevi helps to quarterback the Knights powerplay with good skating ability, a powerful slap shot, strong wrist shot, and very good passing skills. He has excellent vision and the shows the smarts to make the smart play, whether its in running the point on that powerplay or in starting the rush out of the London end of the rink. Juolevi walks the line well and opens up passing and shooting lanes with his agility and poise with the puck on his stick. He understands how to keep the puck low and on net in order to maximize his teammates ability to get tip-ins, screens and rebounds. In addition to making good breakout passes, he has the skating and puck handling skills to avoid the forecheck and start the play that way as well.
On top of that, Juolevi looked great defensively in the OHL with strong positioning and being tough to beat one-on-one. He is very strong at protecting the middle of the ice, using his good footwork to keep himself between attacking forwards and the net. He forces opponents to the outside against the rush, and keeps those cycling the puck to the boards. Juolevi has a quick stick, and uses it to poke the puck off of opponents sticks, and to cut down on passing lanes. He isn’t one to throw big hits, but is willing to be as physical as necessary to defend against the cycle and to clear the front of the net. He could stand to bulk up a bit, which would help him to be stronger on the puck and better at board battles when he moves to the next level and faces bigger and stronger opponents than the teenagers he goes up against in junior hockey.
Juolevi’s strong two-way game is based on his strong skating ability. He has very good speed in both directions, and good acceleration. His pivots are crisp and his edge work is very solid. This allows him to quickly transition from offence-to-defence or vice-versa. This skating allows Juolevi to cover a ton of ice, and to be able to join the rush, or make pinches at the blueline and still get back defensively. Adding core strength would allow Juolevi to improve his balance and be stronger on the puck, as well as better at winning battles in the corners.
Olli Juolevi may need a year or two before he is NHL ready, but could be worth the wait. He projects as a two-way defenceman capable of playing big minutes against other team’s best players, killing penalties, moving the puck, and quarterbacking the powerplay. His style is comparable to Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild, but we caution that this is a stylistic comparison only, and not one based on talent.
The following is a compilation of youtube highlights of Juolevi.
Check back tomorrow for a look at the #8 prospect in this draft class.