Flames First Round Targets 2016: Olli Juolevi

Not the Finn you want, but still a Finn to consider. London Knights defenceman Olli Juolevi is the feature of today’s First Round Targets post.

Scouting Reports

Scouts have pretty much reached a consensus about Juolevi: he’s a very calm, mature defender that has shot up the draft rankings thanks to his seamless adaption to the North American game.


This smart, composed two-way blue liner plays the game in a very mature, experience manner. He is calm and focused although sometimes he could play with a tad more urgency in his own zone. He is strong in his one-on one defensive play using his stick and positioning to break-up plays. His passing ability is elite for his age and he is strong at moving the puck. He generates impressive speeds with a strong, balance stride and good agility to keep up to attacking forwards.


A competitive spark-plug, Olli Juolevi is a complete, all-around defenceman that can hem the opposition in their own end or make things difficult for the opposition at home; either way, he puts the pressure on and lays it on thick. A strong and balanced skater, he can rush the puck through the neutral zone with ease or backcheck with haste. Uses his size to his advantage, but knows his physical limits and plays within them. Instead of playing overly physical, he makes his presence felt by exhibiting his high-end playmaking ability and puck possession play. All-in-all, a well-rounded blueliner who thrives under pressure and can be trusted in all situations.


Juolevi has had no problem whatsoever adjusting to the North American style of play as he already anchors London’s offensively-charged power play. The Helsinki, Finland native adopts a cool and calm approach to all facets of his play; never panics and is always in astute positions to lead a charge up ice or make a staunch defensive play. Due to his calming style of play, he gives his forwards a considerable amount of confidence as they know he will address the defensive duties allowing them to push up more offensively. A terrific skater with deceptive speed, Juolevi spearheads rushes and is just as prone to carry the puck as he is to deliver a tape-to-tape first pass. Stock continues to soar as his team keeps winning.

Sportsnet even wrote Juolevi a love letter. The hype train will keep rolling.

The Numbers

Juolevi is not as proficient a scorer as either Chychrun or Sergachev, but he still does put up some numbers. Among 2016 draft eligible defencemen, Juolevi was top 12 across the whole CHL for even strength primary points. Considering that his estimated EV TOI was about 14 minutes per game, second worst among the 12, his numbers could be a bit subdued. It’s also significant to note that Juolevi contributed 24 powerplay points, 14 of those primary. Juolevi can certainly be a boost to any team with a struggling powerplay (cough cough).

Based on theprojectionproject’s data, Juolevi’s NHLe is 19, giving him a historical 53% chance of being an NHL player. TPP classified 55% of similar players who made the NHL as either “elite” or “first pairing”. The data, while not certain, do indicate that Juolevi has a very good chance of being a very effective NHLer by a points metric.

Fit with the Flames

Juolevi is certainly a defenceman with a bright future ahead of him, likely to be an enviable talent in the future. The chance of him being available at sixth overall is high, presenting an interesting choice for the Flames.

The popular choice will probably be whatever forward is available. The Flames have plenty of defencemen in their ranks and barely enough forwards who shoot the right way. The first two Flames picks in last year’s draft are both defencemen that could possibly battle for NHL spots next year. Drafting Juolevi would be redundant.

The counter-argument is that drafting Juolevi would be the better option looking long term. Assuming everyone pans out, the Flames could have an unmatched defensive corps all under 30 years old in only a few years’ time. If not everyone pans out, they’ll have insurance on the blueline. Functional forwards are found all around the league at very low prices; defencemen aren’t.

So what’s most likely going to happen?


No surprises, the Flames go with a forward. Juolevi is very talented, but he isn’t what the team needs right now. With healthy defensive prospect depth and a handful of NHL guys on cheap contracts, another defenceman would be excessive.

Previous draft target articles: Pierre-Luc Dubois | Alexander Nylander | Matthew Tkachuk | Jakob Chychrun

  • piscera.infada

    […]another defenceman would be excessive.

    Honestly, I’m not sure you can ever say that. First, you can never have enough good, young, cheap defensemen. Secondly, elite, cost-controlled, top-pairing defensemen are one of the most difficult to find (and thus, expensive) commodities in the NHL. If you legitimately have “too many” of those, you will never have a shortage of suitors for them.

    Problem is, I’m not sure Juolevi is that. At the very least, there’s nothing I see that distinguishes him as a better bet to be that than either Chychrun or Sergachev.

  • First Name Unidentified

    The more i think about this year’s draft and the Flames position i lean more towards drafting a defenseman. As already pointed out, top line centres and top pairing D men are drafted and developed from within the system. Wingers can be rented or bought and sold at the market for help but its really tough to trade for top centres and D men.

    I say we either stay at 6 and draft a D or trade down and draft a D (if one of Sergachev, Chychrun or Juolevi still available). Then go out and sign a winger who can play on the top two lines. As i don’t really see any material benefit from drafting either Nylander or Tkachuk.

  • everton fc

    Drafting Juolevi (or Chychrun, for that matter) gives us some incredible depth. What if guys like Wotherspoon, Kulak and Nakladal actually “click” as regulars, in the NHL? Add Kylington and “Rasmus” to the top 3 we already have…

    Depth any team would take, I think.

  • Stu Cazz

    Drafting a young prospect generally means that the player will need 2-3 years of further development before he can become an effective pro. Drafting a player based on team need is a very high risk strategy given that team needs can change quickly…..drafting the best player available regardless of need is definitely the way to go and I believe that is the philosophy the Flames approach all drafts…if Juolevi is the BPA at #6 then we take him….

  • Hubcap1

    “Sportsnet even wrote Juolevi a love letter. The hype train will keep rolling.”

    Very funny, you gotta know that the centre of the universe sports media spend their spare time in London drooling over Marner and so see a lot of this guy.

  • Kevin R

    I agree with many posts already. Yes we need a top 6 forward, “now”. I a;so agree with what was said on another thread that Nylander or Tkachuk don’t have that aura that we all felt we were getting with both Monahan at #6 or Bennett. I don’t believe in trading down as it won’t get the return back to making it worth it. If we can’t parlay Backlund & our #6 into #3, then I say we go with Juolevi or Chychrun. Drafting either of those will allow us to acquire that top 6 forward next year. I like Juolevi because he sounds like a clone of Brodie, who I think will get to the NHL quicker than Brodie did. Imagine Brodie & Hamilton on our top pairing & Gio & Juolevi on the 2nd pairing to start the 2017-18 season.

    • everton fc

      Chychrun is apparently quite the physical defender. But imagining any of the following below is a good thought for this Tuesday morning after the long weekend!

      Brodie & Hamilton, Gio & Juolevi/Chychrun, Andersson & Kylington (or Kulak, for that matter)

      Amazing potential depth, if we went w/one of the two defenders. And both are closer to the NHL-ready stage, than Nylander or Tkachuk.

      • piscera.infada

        Amazing potential depth, if we went w/one of the two defenders. And both are closer to the NHL-ready stage, than Nylander or Tkachuk.

        I’m sorry, but how do we know that to be true? It seems to me that all of the defenders are a couple years out. That’s pretty much how I view every player in the draft save for Matthews and Laine.

        I think we should dispense with the “more NHL ready” tag as means of prospect evaluation–aside from those “big-two” it strikes me as more of a question about proper player development than anything else.

        • everton fc

          I should have said this; Chychrun may be most NHL-ready of the three. Some say the same, if you check out some scouting reports. But I don’t necessarily disagree with the point your making here.

  • Stan

    Kind of curious that in the Tkachuk thread, everyone was losing their minds about the percentage of his points that resulted from playing with two dynamic offensive talents in Marner and Dvorak….

    Yet shouldn’t this be an even greater concern for Juolevi? Especially considering the following two facts:

    1) Despite playing on a powerhouse team, he did not put up huge points. As this article said, he was ranked 12th out of all draft eligible defenceman in the entire CHL in primary points. Do we really want to spend our 6th overall pick on a dman ranked 12th? Despite playing on a powerhouse team?

    2) Over 50% (!!) of his points came on the PP, where I imagine he was playing mostly with Marner, Dvorak and Tkachuk.

    Not sure why everyone is so concerned about this fact when it comes to Tkachuk, but just seem to ignore it completely when it comes to Juolevi.

    • Juan Valdez

      Would you rather have a defenceman like Phaneuf that puts up lots of points but has brain farts at critical times in a game, or a reliable shut down defenceman like Niklas Hjalmarsson?

    • madjam

      If you caught the Chiarelli interview during the second period break of the Brandon London game , you would probably realize Oilers will most likely be taking Juolevi or Tkachuk at 4 if they retain that pick . . He raved about both of them and body language to boot , and was really impressed at Juolevi being such a superior cerebral player . How does he know this ? Because of how well he mixes with the top stars on London , and also his Finnish boys in Puljujarvi , Aho and Laine in the junior Worlds that they won . I might prefer Chychrun , but I doubt Chia does . Just a little more hype you might want to consider . In a nutshell , we know how well Juolevi performs with the best juniors that will probably be NHL of destinction , and thus adjustment to better NHL players he should not falter either . I think you might be underestimating Juolevi and Tkachuk .

      • KiLLKiND

        I think you might be putting too much stock into a GM, who admitted he had never he watched Reinhardt play before trading your first which was used to select Matthew Barzel, and two 2nd round picks in last years draft.

        Stan raised many valid points and all you said was Chiarelli really likes, and them they can play with star players. Personally I agree taking Juolevi before either Seragachev and Chychrun would be a really big mistake. I even like Jake Bean over Juolevi, and have no idea why Bean is ranked so low.

        • madjam

          Chia listened to his advisors and took Reinhart – mistake I believe . I think most bloggers make the mistake of grading prospects by hype and a few video hilites of each one – only a loaded portion of their games . Truth is Gm’s and scouts generally know what they are doing , have even their videos of low lights to examine . Most important is how well they perform against the top competition . It is a blessing if they can be seen playing on a top line or team . It is not a deterrent or negative in the least , as it shows you better how they might fit in and perform with top players in the NHL .

    • SmellOfVictory

      I’m concerned about it with both (although Tkachuk’s numbers are still fine even without his inordinate amount of secondary/PP points).

      If the Flames did take a D, I’d prefer Chychrun, I think.

  • BurningSensation

    What has so fair gone unnoticed is that the most fungible ‘currency’ in the NHL isn’t draft picks, but young/cheap defensemen.

    If you have enough prospects on the blue, you can deal them for whatever else you need.

    This is not true for any other position (though C is close in how desired they are).

    So if the Flames have three guys in a ‘tier’ you take the D, then the C, and then the winger. Goaltenders are best drafted later.

  • SmellOfVictory

    After just spending two hours listening to Burke at the season ticket holders luncheon, I can tell you that the management team has their sights set on whoever is left of P.L. Dubois, Matthew Tkachuk, and Olli Juolevi. He keyed in on the fact that they still want to play a black and blue system, and neither Nylander or Logan Brown fit their need for a “hard” player. He was actually very candid, as he usually is, but open about the three players they are looking at.

    • freethe flames

      Every time I hear Burke talk about playing Black and Blue hockey I wonder how that impacts the likelyhood that Johhny signs a long term deal?

      We need to get bigger and more abrasive but we also need to get more skilled as well. Johnny and Monny need a complimentary player on the right side. Bennett needs at least one highly skilled forward and a complimentary player. These are our minimal requirements. The complimentary pieces can be found as FA but the skilled ones need to be acquired either via the draft or trade.