Canucks Rising Prospects: Juolevi, Woo & Madden

Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning has been in the news recently because he’s made some moves to trim his roster. Perhaps he plans to become active in the free-agent market; perhaps he’s clearing space for some of the Canucks prospects who might soon emerge from the pipeline and make their way onto the team’s roster.

Related – Canucks 2019-20 Predictions: Pearson, Leivo & Baertschi

If the latter is the case, here’s a review of three prospects in the Canucks’ system who might soon show up on the big team’s roster. These players include Olli Juolevi, Jett Woo, Tyler Madden, and for good measure whomever the team drafts this year with their 10th overall pick.

Prospect One: Olli Juolevi

The Canucks drafted Olli Juolevi fifth overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft and then loaned him to TPS Turku of the Finnish Liiga. In 38 games in Finland, he scored 19 points. This past season, Juolevi moved to the Canucks farm team, the Utica Comets, and started the season well (with 13 points in 18 games). However, in a set back to his development, he sustained a meniscus tear that required surgery. No doubt, this injury and subsequent surgery have slowed his progress.

Related – Canucks Calling: Carey Price, Please Come Home

When the Canucks drafted Juolevi, they hoped he would develop into a top-pairing defenseman. However, although that might yet happen, the organization’s initial enthusiasm has waned a bit and there’s now hope that Juolevi will become a top-four defensive player. If that happens, it would still be great for the Canucks.

Olli Juolevi Vancouver Canucks
Vancouver Canucks defenseman Olli Juolevi, (Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)

Many Canucks fans believe Juolevi reminds them of a young Alex Edler. Both play a bit under the radar and have “quiet games.” Both are steady, make few mistakes, but also make few splashy plays. Both are responsible in their own ends, play with confidence, and are puck-movers. Edler is also a classy, team-oriented player, and one might hope Juolevi models Edler in that respect as well.

As the Canucks move towards solidifying their rebuild over the next few years, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Juolevi emerging as part of that mix. A strong defense must be part of that rebuild.

Jett Woo

With one of the great young hockey names, Jett Woo also is getting lots of attention with Canucks fans because of his style of play. He’s a banger.

Jett was named after the great martial arts actor Jet Li. The story goes that Jett got his first name because Woo’s grandfather, who immigrated to Canada and was active in Winnipeg’s Chinese community, was helping the young Jet Li move to Canada. Although Li decided to move straight to Hollywood instead of coming to Winnipeg, a strong connection remained between the family and the actor.

Jett Woo of the Moose Jaw Warriors
Jett Woo of the Moose Jaw Warriors. (Marc Smith/Moose Jaw Warriors)

Jett Woo’s dad Larry, a Winnipeg firefighter, who also played junior hockey in Victoria and Swift Current, loved Li’s name and gave it to his son. However, the family added an extra T to the end for good luck.

Woo was picked by the Canucks in the second round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft (37th overall). He began under the radar, but he’s more recently become a surprise. At first, he was considered more of a stay-at-home defenseman, and scored a respectable but not outstanding 25 points in 44 games in the 2017-18 season with the Moose Jaw Warriors. However, this past season, the hard-hitting, right-side blueliner had an offensive breakout and scored 12 goals and 64 points in 62 games – more than a point-a-game pace.

Related – News & Rumors: Kassian, Eriksson, Markstrom, Gillis & DiPietro

As Benning noted, “He plays the game with good intensity and attention to detail at both ends of the ice.” Woo has become a fan favorite because he plays with an old-school, smash-mouth style. And, don’t be surprised if, as the Canucks move towards their rebuild, he won’t become part of the youthful roster. He should be fun to watch.

Tyler Madden

The Canucks drafted center Tyler Madden in the third round (68th overall) of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. His small size at 5-foot-11, 152 pounds probably kept him low on the draft chart rankings. However, his offensive potential is growing and his strong play is beginning to overwhelm any doubts Canucks management might have had about his size. 

That his father was long-time New Jersey Devils center John Madden, who is head coach of the Cleveland Monsters, can’t hurt Madden’s hockey smarts and development as a player. He comes from good hockey lineage. Tyler models his game after his father John, whose pesky, under-sized play made him a valuable contributor for 13 NHL seasons.

The young Madden’s speed and tenacity stand out, and help make him a promising two-way, middle-six center. However, if his offense continues to progress, his value to the organization might also progress as well.

Tyler Madden of the Central Illinois Flying Aces
Tyler Madden of the Central Illinois Flying Aces. (Hickling Images)

Elite Prospects called Madden highly-skilled, with great active mobility and strong hockey sense. The word is that he’s a two-way player with great puck possession, has a strong shot, a quick release, and has developed good habits and instincts.

Again, as the Canucks continue their rebuild, Madden might be a good player to watch. Is it too much to hope that his offensive potential is not unlike other small-sized yet highly-effective current NHL players Alex DeBrincat and Johnny Gaudreau? DeBrincat, the Chicago Blackhawks’ 5-foot-7, 165-pounds star, and Gaudreau, the Calgary Flames’ 5-foot-9, 157-pound star, were considered too small to be impact players. DeBrincat was drafted 39th overall and Gaudreau was drafted 104th overall. However, look how good they’ve become.

Related: Canucks Prospect Michael DiPietro Is Setting the OHL On Fire

Stranger things have happened, so there’s hope for Madden’s continued improvement.

Going Forward?

As the Canucks continue to rebuild, it will be fun for fans to watch some of the youthful potential emerging from the system. Although Benning has made some obvious mistakes in his tenure, his skill at drafting players is a strong point. Thanks for Elias Pettersson. Let’s hope he’s right on these young players as well.