London Knights (OHL)CSS Rank:
5th among North American Skaters
Few draft-eligible defencemen had the success in 2015-16 that Olli Juolevi had.
Juolevi finished third among OHL rookie defencemen with 42 points (9-33-42) in 57 games. He added three goals and 11 assists in 14 playoff games, helping spur the stacked London Knights to an OHL Championship. At the Memorial Cup, he had seven assists in four games as — again — London reigned supreme.
On a personal level, Juolevi was named to the Memorial Cup All-Star Team.
Wherever Juolevi went, success followed. The defenceman had nine assists in seven games at the 2016 World Junior Championship, and was named to the tournament All-Star Team. His performance was crucial to Finland’s gold medal finish (pun intended).
Despite the strong second half and finish to the season, Juolevi didn’t budge from his midterm ranking of five. But that’s a good spot for the Finnish blueliner, who is ranked behind only Sarnia’s Jakob Chychrun among North American defencemen (Central Scouting).
However, if you ask Juolevi, he’s second to none in this draft class. Exuding confidence at the NHL Combine, Juolevi says his hockey smarts make him deserving of being the first d-man selected at the end of June.
“Because I’m the smartest of the D,” Juolevi said of why he’s the top of the class. “That’s something that’s hard to teach anymore. It’s one of those natural things that you have or you don’t have. You can always go to the gym and work out and get bigger muscles, or you can go practice your shooting, start passing or skating or whatever but (smarts) are a hard thing to improve.”
Juolevi certainly has a wealth of hockey IQ to go along with his confidence and skill. He compares his style of play to Arizona’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
One scout, according to The Hockey News, says Juolevi is “really smart, very smooth.”
Those are two of the many characteristics that could help Juolevi go very high in the draft.
The Oilers spoke with Juolevi at the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo.
“It was pretty nice,” Juolevi said. “It wasn’t one of the hardest ones and they were nice people. I had a good feeling after the meeting.”
Oilers Director of Player Personnel Bob Green says Juolevi “will get bigger and stronger” over time, and throws him into the mix for the best of the best of defencemen in the 2016 NHL Draft.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
- Director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr: “Juolevi is a smart, smooth-skating, puck-moving defenceman with excellent poise and composure. He displays elite hockey sense and instincts with and without the puck and plays in every situation.”
- Curtis Joe of Elite Prospects: “A competitive spark-plug, Olli Juolevi is a complete, all-around defenceman that can hem the opposition in their own end or make things difficult for the opposition at home; either way, he puts pressure on and lays it on thick.”
- ISS: “Two-way defender who does everything well. Has strong awareness, anticipation and a high-end skill-set.”