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NHL Draft

Juolevi confident ahead of 2016 NHL Draft

Prospect says he believes he'll be first defenseman selected

by Joe Yerdon / NHL.com Correspondent

BUFFALO -- London Knights defenseman Olli Juolevi isn't lacking in confidence when it comes to where he believes he ranks for the 2016 NHL Draft.

After Juolevi completed testing at the NHL Scouting Combine at HarborCenter on Saturday, he said he believes he'll be the first defenseman taken at the draft at First Niagara Center on June 24-25.

"I'm the smartest of the [defensemen] and it's something that is hard to teach," Juolevi said. "It's like one of those natural things that you either have or you don't have. You can always go practice your shooting or skating or whatever, but that's a hard thing to improve anymore."

Juolevi's confidence in his abilities provides something teams may like to see from the Memorial Cup-winning defenseman, but that just comes naturally for him.

"When you're a small kid, you don't care if you're confident or not; you just go out and play," Juolevi said. "And now it's almost like pros now, so now you have to be confident. You have to know how good you are and be proud of that."

Juolevi (6-foot-2, 182 pounds) is ranked No. 5 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft, but is not the highest-ranked defenseman. Sarnia defenseman Jakob Chychrun is one spot ahead of him at No. 4. Even though Juolevi said he wasn't keeping up with where he was ranked, he said it was tough to avoid knowing just the same.

"Everybody tweets that or Facebook or whatever and media is all over it and every ranking is posted somewhere and they tag you in there," Juolevi said. "But I don't know, they're just the rankings and they're not the team rankings. I think every team has different rankings in their papers, so you can't think about those too much, especially not this year. 

"The draft is so even after the top three, but if you're ranked seven or eight you might be 15, you might be four [by other teams] so you don't know. But I know I have played with those guys and I have my thoughts about where I should go and all that. It's just great that you're going in the first round and you're still somebody's team's first pick. It's great."

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