The Vancouver Canucks won’t have a lot of prospects at the World Juniors this year, but they will have at least one player playing a prominent role.
Defenceman Olli Juolevi, the fifth overall pick by Vancouver in this past June’s NHL Draft, will not only play but will captain Team Finland.
Olli Juolevi has been named captain of Finland U20 for World Juniors. Vili Saarijärvi and Kasper Björkqvist are assistant captains. #WJC2017
— Finnish jr hockey (@FINjrhockey) December 19, 2016
Juolevi was a member of Finland’s gold medal winning team at least year’s tournament. He finished tied for sixth in tournament scoring with nine points (0-9-9) in seven games and was named to the tournament’s All-Star Team.
The talented Finnish defenceman is having a good year with the OHL’s London Knights this season, putting up 21 points (6-15-21) in 26 games.
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) November 21, 2016
This year, Juolevi’s importance to Finland should be magnified, as he’s not only a year older, but also because Finland has lost many key players from last year’s team. Finland’s top three scorers from last year – Jesse Puljujarvi, Sebastian Aho, and Patrik Laine – are all in the NHL this season.
Watching Finland’s games should be a nice preview of what’s to come for Canucks fans, as Juolevi could be in the NHL as soon as next year.
Juolevi will likely be one of two Canucks in this year’s tournament, with right winger Lukas Jasek – a sixth round pick by Vancouver in 2015 – looking like a lock to make the Czech Republic team.
Vancouver’s first rounder from 2015, American winger Brock Boeser, will miss the tournament with a wrist injury.
The World Junior tournament, which is being hosted by Toronto and Montreal this year, begins on Boxing Day.
Finland’s preliminary round schedule: