The Arizona Coyotes stood pat in the NHL Draft Lottery and will pick 7th. Olli Juolevi is a defenseman for the London Knights and a potential draft candidate for the Coyotes front office.
Arizona Coyotes fans waited with baited breath for the results of the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery. At stake was the right to draft Scottsdale native and presumptive first overall pick Auston Matthews.
The hometown boy turned potential franchise savior.
By 7:15, we were all heartbroken because Arizona missed out on a lottery spot, let alone the #1 overall pick. But there was a silver lining; Arizona did not fall down the draft board and will select at #7, where a plurality of strong prospects are projected to be taken.
With the 7th overall pick locked up, it’s time to explore the Arizona Coyotes options and where new general manager John Chayka might go with the pick:
Physical Make Up
According to Elite Prospects, Olli Juolevi (pronounced “jo-lev-e”) is an 18 year-old left-handed defenseman from Helsinki, Finland. Juolevi measures up at approximately 6 foot, 2 inches and weighs 183 pounds.
Junior Hockey Stats, Trends and Other Insights
In honor of newly minted Coyotes GM and stats guru John Chayka‘s hiring, I’m gonna get all math-y in here for a minute.
Juolevi put up 42 points in 57 games with the London Knights this winter, and has accrued 11 points in 15 games in the Ontario Hockey league’s playoffs.
With no deeper statistics available, we can still pick out some interesting trends in the slim stat lines we have.
Juolevi is very intelligent; he commits few penalties, makes smart passes, creates space when he skates and, perhaps most importantly, has the ability to generate offense on his own or with others. He also has a stellar snap and slapshot that I believe is not dissimilar to Arizona Coyotes’ star Oliver Ekman-Larsson; it’s precise and potent.
Here are further insights to Juolevi’s play from various scouting reports and a variety of hockey analysts:
"“The 6-2, 179-pound left-shot defender moved from the Jokerit program in Finland to London of the OHL this season and has excelled. Scouts like his skating, poise and composure with the puck, and excellent hockey sense. He has four goals, 23 points and a plus-23 rating in 27 games and can play in any situation.” – Mike Morale, NHL.com"
"“Very sturdily built D-man that leans into his hits, competes hard, and possesses elite-level vision and hockey sense. Looks stronger game-by-game and adapts very quickly to his surroundings and situations.” – EliteProspects.com"
"Olli Juolevi (#7) of the London Knights is an incredibly competent player who makes the game look easy in all areas. He makes the essential and key plays at every turn. He shows mastery of his position under the most challenging of circumstances, and his poise, calm and assuredness are the stuff of pillar-type defensemen.” – Craig Button, TSN"
Most Comparable NHL Player: Olli Maatta
Many analysts and hockey statisticians have come to a consensus that Juolevi is a defensive stud in the making, with skills and traits that are not dissimilar to young Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman and fellow Fin Olli Maatta.
Maatta, in his 3 years in the NHL, has acquired 57 points over 165 games and plays an average of about 19 and a half minutes a games. Maatta’s game is all about making finesse passes and jumping into offensive plays while being defensively responsible. Here’s a quick highlight reel of Maatta’s play for Pittsburgh:
As you can see, Maatta is not afraid to jump up into plays and make offense happen. He handles the puck with ease and knows when not to over extend himself into an offensive rush.
Now check out a Juolevi highlight reel (and notice at :51 seconds who Juolevi feeds a pass to for a London goal):
That’s right, Arizona Coyotes top prospect Christian Dvorak.
Juolevi’s experience playing with other Coyotes’ prospects makes him a valuable draft choice because he already has chemistry with the team’s future, and that could translate to immediate offense in Glendale next season.
How Juolevi fits in with Arizona Coyotes
Olli Juolevi is an NHL-ready defenseman with elite skills and hockey IQ. He knows his limits, makes smart plays and creates offense.
The Arizona Coyotes need defense, and they need it badly.
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Young defensemen like Connor Murphy and Michael Stone see a ton of ice time and spreading their talents around the top 3 defensive pairs could do both the players and the team well. It would decrease the pressure on them to perform every game and it would certainly lighten the load for the Coyotes’ top D-man, Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
In pure speculation, Juolevi would either assume a first or second pairing role with the Arizona Coyotes out of training camp, similar to how the Carolina Hurricanes handled their young and talented defenseman, Noah Hanifin.
Likelihood of Juolevi Being Drafted By Arizona: A-
There are a lot of draft options and nobody knows who the teams in front of Arizona wants to take.
But if Juolevi is still available at the #7 spot, then expect the Coyotes to jump on him. He immediately upgrades the defense and makes his fellow prospects even more potent.