Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic reports that the Florida Panthers are acquiring defenseman Olli Juolevi from the Vancouver Canucks. The move comes just two days ahead of the start of the regular season. The Athletic’s Thomas Drance reports that Vancouver will receive forward Juho Lammikko and defenseman Noah Juulsen in return.
Drafted fifth overall in 2016, the 23-year-old Finn has failed to secure an NHL role up to this point in his career and made his NHL debut just last season. He’ll now look for a bigger role and a different, potentially more favorable system under coach Joel Quenneville in Florida. General manager Bill Zito spoke about the acquisition today:
We are excited to welcome another young defenseman like Olli to our organization. We look forward to Olli developing with our club as he joins our deepening core on the blueline.
Juolevi tallied just two goals and an assist in 23 games with Vancouver this season, averaging 13:13 per game. With Florida, it’s possible that he resumes a seventh defenseman role while he’s given more time to work with coaching staff.
When he is ready to enter the NHL lineup in South Florida, he’ll have to likely knock off one of Markus Nutivaara or Brandon Montour for a spot in the lineup. It won’t be an easy task, but it is possible if Juolevi begins to realize his top-ten pick potential.
Juolevi had been productive in the AHL over the past few seasons, tallying 38 points in 63 games with the Utica Comets from 2018-2020. If given more of a role in Florida, it’s likely that his offensive and defensive play would improve.