Without context, trading away a top-five draft selection for a depth forward doesn’t seem like a good idea.
But for the Vancouver Canucks, the decision to trade Olli Juolevi for Juho Lammikko has been a massive win.
Prior to the Canucks finalizing their opening night roster, former general manager Jim Benning traded Juolevi to the Florida Panthers for Lammikko and depth defenceman Noah Juulsen.
Now, more than halfway through the season, that deal is looking like a massive win for the Canucks.
Lammikko thriving under Boudreau
There’s arguably no player that has benefitted more from the Bruce Boudreau hire than Lammikko.
During the first 20 games of his Canucks tenure, it looked like Lammikko might be playing himself out of the NHL. He had just one assist in those 20 games while averaging 10:03 of ice time per night.
The 26-year-old Finn was also part of the problem on the Canucks putrid penalty kill.
Thankfully, Lammikko’s first game under Boudreau was a sign of things to come.
After sitting out as a healthy scratch for the last five games of Green’s tenure, Lammikko scored during his return to the lineup in Boudreau’s first game as a Canucks coach.
Since then, Lammikko has solidified his spot as a centre on a surprisingly effective checking line with Tyler Motte and Matthew Highmore.
Cleanin' up that rebound 🧼 pic.twitter.com/hLI3xsMcXf
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) February 13, 2022
Not only is the line faring well against the opposition’s best players (62.2% expected goals-for), but they’re actually outscoring them as well (10 goals for, two goals against).
Lammikko has thrived both defensively and offensively since Boudreau took over, highlighted by the fact that he has five goals and 10 points in his last 25 games.
Prior to that, he had four goals and 12 points in his first 102 games as an NHLer.
Even Juulsen is outscoring Juolevi
Like Juolevi, Juulsen was a former first-round pick whose promising career was derailed by injuries. Multiple facial fractures suffered in November 2018 forced him to miss a ton of action over the past couple of seasons.
This year, he’s been a top penalty-killing defenceman in Abbotsford. He’s also seen some time with the Canucks, where he’s registered two assists in seven games.
Those two points are two more than Juolevi has in nine NHL games this season.
Juolevi has yet to carve out a full-time NHL role
Throughout his tenure with the Canucks, Juolevi was slowed by injuries and setbacks.
That storyline has continued in Florida.
Shortly after being acquired by the Panthers in mid-October, Juolevi suffered an undisclosed injury.
He went down to the AHL for a conditioning stint in mid-November where he suffered another setback.
After spending most of the first two months of the season on injured reserve, Juolevi made his debut for the Panthers on December 10 against the Arizona Coyotes.
Since then, he’s played nine games total, with no points in those contests.
In between those nine games, Juolevi ended up in COVID-19 protocol and, you guessed it, had another short stint on Florida’s injured reserve.
During Juolevi’s nine games, he hasn’t had much of an impact. He’s been heavily sheltered (77.1% offensive zone starts) but despite that, his 49% expected goals differential ranks last among Panthers who have played more than 100 even-strength minutes.
The 23-year-old is on a one-year deal making the league minimum. The question facing the former fifth-overall selection is, will he show enough over the rest of the season to earn another NHL contract?