The Vancouver Canucks have been dealt bad news about their prized defensive prospect Olli Juolevi.
Juolevi needs surgery on his ailing back.
Juolevi, 20, was ear marked to begin the 2018-19 season on the Vancouver blue line after playing last season in his Finland. The former London Knights rear guard was the 5th overall selection at the 2016 NHL Draft.
Juolevi is a versatile, all-around defenceman who is big, fast and highly skilled. Juolevi is very dependable and reliable in all three zones. Juolevi plays in all situations.
The timing of this Juolevi news comes at the absolute wrong time for Canucks GM Jim Benning.
There is no timetable for Juolevi’s return. Microdiscectomy surgery could take as long as three months to completely heal.
There have been pre-Draft rumors that Benning is looking to make over his blue line via the trade market. Before his back injury, Juolevi could have been offered as trade currency for Benning to secure a legit top six center for the Canucks. Not many NHL GMs will trade for a young defenseman with a surgically repaired back injury.
Aging veteran lefty Alex Edler has one year remaining at $5 million. Juolevi is also a lefty, and would be an immediate upgrade over Edler. Michael Del Zotto is also a lefty and has one year remaining at $3 million. Ben Hutton, a lefty, has been rumored to be on the trade block for the past six months. Hutton hasn’t one year remaining at $2.8 million. Derrick Puliot is an RFA shot D. On the right side, Chris Tanev has two years remaining at $4.45M. Erik Gudbranson has three seasons remaining at $4M AAV per season. Righties Alex Stecher (RFA ) and Alex Biega round out the Vancouver D corps.
Benning owns the 7th overall pick in the 2018 NhL Draft.
Benning May choose to select a D in Noah Dobson of (Acadie-Bathurst), Quintin Hughes (University of Michigan) and Evan Bouchard (London Knights) are three of the high-end defensemen that may still be on the board when Benning is ready to select.