It’s going to be a long, painful summer for Canucks prospect Olli Juolevi.
Juolevi needs surgery on his back, the team announced.
“Olli Juolevi will be undergoing a microdiscectomy procedure for a disc in his low back,” the Canucks revealed in a Monday morning tweet. “Juolevi began experiencing some discomfort during off-season training and, after imaging and consultation with the team’s medical staff, it was determined this would be the best course of action to prepare for next season.”
The Canucks haven’t provided a timetable for his recovery, but back injuries don’t tend to be quick fixes.
The injury is likely to give fans Cody Hodgson flashbacks, as he suffered a back injury while training in the offseason when he was 19. Or maybe we should be having Alex Edler flashbacks?
— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) June 11, 2018
Edler was kept out of the lineup for over two months after the 2011 surgery, and although he played the entire playoffs that year, some point to the injury as the reason for him not turning into the player the franchise hoped for.
Juolevi, who turned 20 last month, is an extremely important prospect for the franchise. As the team’s only top prospect defenceman, there’s a lot riding on the young Finn.
The reviews have been mixed on Juolevi ever since the Canucks picked him fifth overall in 2016. After his point totals stalled with the OHL’s London Knights, Juolevi made his professional debut in Finland this past season, scoring 19 points (7-12-19) in 38 games.
The Juolevi selection has come under additional scrutiny for what other players from his draft class have already accomplished. Vancouver passed over forwards Matthew Tkachuk and Clayton Keller, who were picked immediately after Juolevi, and are already making an impact in the NHL.
Two of the next three defencemen taken are also excelling in the NHL, in Mikhail Sergachev and Charlie McAvoy. Meanwhile, Juolevi wasn’t being picked by many to make the Canucks out of training camp next season.
And now, with back surgery setting him back, it could be another year of waiting, wishing, and hoping that the Canucks’ top blueliner prospect pans out.