The Florida Panthers have acquired defenceman Olli Juolevi from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for defenceman Noah Juulsen and forward Juho Lammikko. The 23-year-old made his NHL debut with the Canucks in the 2020 Playoffs and played 23 games last season where he posted two goals and three points.
With the acquisition of Juolevi, the Panthers get a young defenceman that has struggled to gain a footing in the NHL so far. Since being selected fifth overall in the 2016 Draft, he has only played 23 NHL games while other members of his draft class in Mikhail Sergachev, Charlie McAvoy, and Matthew Tkachuk have become significant pieces of their respective teams.
Juolevi’s development was set back by two major injuries to his hip and knee, but after a mediocre training camp that saw him collapse during Canucks’ head coach Travis Green’s infamous bag skate, the writing was on the wall for the young blueliner. Throw in the fact that Jack Rathbone, Kyle Burroughs, and Derek Hunt outperformed him during the preseason and training camp, and his days in Vancouver were practically over.
Joining ex-Canucks prospect Gustav Forsling in Florida, Juolevi will be given a chance to start anew with a different organization and a different coaching staff. A change of scenery will probably do him good, but it’s unclear where he will fit in with the Panthers. He will likely play a similar role there as he did with the Canucks, as a sixth/seventh defenceman. He is only on a one-year contract worth $750,000 in average annual value (AAV), so hopefully, for his sake, he can impress enough to earn a more stable long-term contract next season.
Canucks Add Another Former First-Round Pick in Juuleson
The Canucks are now banking on a different defenceman with a similar background. Juuleson was also a first-round pick, albeit 26th overall instead of fifth overall and he has been set back by injuries too. After making the NHL right out of junior in 2018, he suffered a major eye injury in a game against the Washington Capitals in November of that same year. He has since recovered but has only 48 games on his resume. Described as a two-way defenceman with great mobility and physicality, he will have a chance to compete on a blueline that needs some help on the right side. With Travis Hamonic on waivers, they need all the help they can get.
The Canucks also acquired big right-winger Juho Lammikko who was selected 65th overall by the Panthers during the 2014 Draft. The 6-foot-2 forward played 44 games with the Panthers last season where he recorded four goals and five points. Like most players Benning acquires, he is a versatile forward that can play both wing and center. He also has some experience killing penalties, as he spent an average of 58 seconds per game on the penalty kill last season.
Juuleson can be sent directly to the Abbotsford Canucks without clearing waivers because he cleared earlier in the week. Lammikko will likely join the team in Vancouver since he will need to clear to be sent to the AHL. It will be interesting to see what other roster moves come after this as the Canucks continue to widdle down their numbers to the required 23-man limit. Joining Hamonic on the waiver wire on Sunday were Justin Bailey, Madison Bowey, and preseason standout Phil Di Giuseppe.