With just a couple of games to go in the preseason, there is no doubt that Olli Juolevi has ultimately failed to meet expectations. Drafted 5th overall in the 2016 NHL entry draft, the Canucks hoped that Juolevi would become a reliable and consistent top 4 defenseman for the team down the road.
However, with the emergence of Jack Rathbone, Juolevi finds himself on the outside looking in when it comes down to the fight for the left side spot on the 3rd pair. In addition to that, the coaching staff doesn’t appear to have much trust in Juolevi’s abilities either.
With every passing day, it is becoming clear that his days with the club are likely numbered.
What are Juolevi’s positive attributes?
The main element about Juolevi’s game that stands out is his sound defensive play. While there are some issues with his pivoting, Juolevi is a pretty decent positional player. In addition to that, he can be relied upon for killing penalties occasionally, and his good hockey IQ often allows him to make a good first pass out of the zone to relieve pressure.
While it doesn’t seem like Juolevi will be the everyday top 4 defenceman, at 23, he still has time to refine some of his flaws and become a consistent player on the 3rd pairing.
As we have seen in some other transactions, including the deals for Sam Bennett, Robby Fabbri, and Dylan Strome, a change of scenery trade can sometimes work out quite well for both the player and the team that is acquiring him.
A deal involving Olli Juolevi can be facilitated, so long as a similar reclamation project is coming back to the Canucks. There is one intriguing player available, who also finds himself on the outside looking in with his current team.
Who can the Canucks get back in a Juolevi trade?
While the New York Islanders are known as a strong defensive team, they surprisingly lack depth on the right side. Since the organization has a penchant for putting defencemen in positions to succeed, you could envision them taking a flier on Juolevi.
In return, the Islanders might consider trading another player who could use a change of scenery in Kieffer Bellows.
What would Bellows bring to the Canucks lineup?
Picked 19 overall in the 2016 draft, Bellows has had a very difficult time finding a consistent spot in a stacked Islanders forward group. Spending most of last season in Barry Trotz’s doghouse and only appearing in 14 games, Bellows was able to contribute three goals in while often being a physical presence in the offensive zone.
In addition to that, Bellows is only a year removed from a season in which he scored 22 goals in 52 games, playing for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the AHL. While his offensive skills and abilities are one thing to be excited about, the grit and tenacity Bellows plays with could make him quite the fan-favorite down the line. He is also a relatively good skater who can play all three forward positions and be used in every situation. That caveat, of course, is that he’s relatively unproven at the NHL level with 22 games played (5-1-6).
Then again, so is Juolevi.
While the Olli Juolevi trade market is likely lukewarm at best, the Canucks should still try and get something back for him. Although his value isn’t high, it’s likely propped by his potential and the fact that he was a fifth overall pick.
What do you think Canucks fans? Do you think Bellows is a good target in a potential Juolevi trade? What other piece or assets would you like for the organization to pursue in such a transaction?