Welcome to the Canucks Top 25 Under 25 Rankings, the series that makes you wish you were under 25 again. The list includes all players born after January 1st, 1996. Five staff writers (Beggsy, Westy, CanucksAbbyFan2, Trevor Connors, Markus Meyer) and one former staff writer (Daniel Gee, Elite Prospects) cast votes for the project.
For the first time in seven drafts, Jim Benning lacked both a first and second-round selection.
That made third-round pick Joni Jurmo the Canucks de facto first selection in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. The selection was largely applauded as most scouts had Joni Jurmo pegged as a second-round quality talent.
I'm honestly astounded by the fact that Joni Jurmo was even available to the #Canucks. Totally slipped my mind as an option because it was hard to imagine he'd be there.— J.D. Burke (@JDylanBurke) October 7, 2020
Benning and his staff have largely done well at the draft table during his tenure in Vancouver. This year however, they needed to be even sharper with their picks considering the lack of high-end selections. In the first post-Judd Brackett draft, the selection of the lanky, cerebral, smooth-skating defenceman in the third round seemed like as good a bet as any.
“Jurmo has everything you would want in a potential top-pairing defenceman,” draft analyst Steve Kournianos said. “He’s an effortless skater with a long, clean stride, and he doesn’t buckle under the first sign of pressure.
“Jurmo can be an intimidating presence as he powers through the zone at top speed. His decision-making with the puck is cleaner than it is creative, but he has excellent vision and will delay in the offensive zone to open up a line for either a hard shot or an on-the-tape seam pass.
“If he ever finds himself on a top-heavy squad, the potential for primary assists off the shot or pass will increase.”
Based on that last statement from Kournianos, Jurmo was drafted by the right team. However, he still has a long way to go before he makes an impact on North American ice.
Jurmo was not named to Finland’s preliminary roster for the World Juniors, although he is eligible to join the team next year.
He’s also not being put in the best position to succeed during his first full year in Finland’s Liiga. Despite receiving regular third-pairing minutes, he plays on an awful JYP team that’s ranked second last in the league with a 5-14 record. Jurmo has played 16 of those 19 games, with zero points to show for.
However, you can see in clips like this from Elite Prospect’s Daniel Gee, that Jurmo has an incredibly enticing toolkit.
This video looks at an assortment of plays from new #Canucks prospect, Joni Jurmo. These plays are from a preseason and regular season game of the 2020-2021 campaign. We examine his activations, defense on the rush, and his passing through layers.— Daniel Gee (@DanielGScouting) October 9, 2020
Powered by @InStatHockey pic.twitter.com/xdbSbIFleZ
What’s Next for Jurmo?
Just a couple of weeks before the Liiga season was put on pause because of the coronavirus pandemic, Jurmo was given a pathway to receive an increase in ice time.
JYP parting ways with a veteran 25 year old LHD paves the way for Joni Jurmo to get more ice time.— CanucksAbbyFan2 (@Fan2Abby) November 19, 2020
Last game he played nearly 15 minutes and was effective in doing so. If the teenager can get his offensive game going in the pro Liiga, he may be a real steal for the #Canucks https://t.co/otI1aXT0et pic.twitter.com/VBaB139aYH
Unfortunately, that offensive game hasn’t come through during Jurmo’s first pro season. Still, it’s clearly too early to make any sweeping judgments about the trajectory of Jurmo’s career.
Based on his skill set, you have to imagine that Jurmo begins to figure out the offensive side of his game as the season progresses in Liiga, even if he is playing on a subpar team.
Jurmo can be expected to play in Liiga for this season and the next. If all goes well, he plays himself onto Finland’s World Junior squad during this time next year.