Olli Juolevi – London Knights – Player Profile

Height:  6’2”

Weight: 185 pounds

Date of birth: May 5, 1998. Helsinki, Finland

Position: Defence

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft:  Round 1, 45th overall, CHL Import Draft.

Prior to arriving in North America, Juolevi played Junior A hockey for Jokerit U-20 in Finland’s SM-liiga Jr A.  He appeared in 44 games and notched 6 goals while adding 26 assists. He was voted the league’s top defenseman and was named the league’s top rookie. Surprisingly, or not, he appeared in 11 games for Jokerit the previous season as a 15 year old and contributed a goal and 3 assists.

Internationally, Juolevi has played for Finland’s under-16 and under-17 junior squads and has a combined total of 5 goals and 10 assists in 30 games. He also played for Finland at the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial and in 4 games had an assist.

Olli Juolevi of the London Knights. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Olli Juolevi of the London Knights. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

When you hear Juolevi’s name it is often compared to fellow countryman and former London Knights’ defender Olli Maatta. While there are similarities to their game, I would contend that Juolevi’s ceiling is higher than the Pittsburgh Penguins’ first round draft pick (22nd overall) from 2012.

Juolevi has good size with skating at an elite level. He’s a well rounded two way defenseman whose only weaknesses can be overcome simply by gaining more experience on North American ice. He has tremendous vision, and learning to make intelligent puck decisions as he gains experience. Early in the season, he would periodically make some bad decisions at the offensive blue line, but he has overcome that and learned to pick his spots.

Juolevi has a good shot from the point and is usually on target. He has a knack for getting it through traffic and uses a variety of shots, depending on the situation in front of him. His ability to quarterback the powerplay is excellent. His ability to make tape to tape passes even through coverage is bordering on elite.

Perhaps the biggest surprise may be Juolevi’s ability to make a stretch pass. Given his excellent vision and passing ability it shouldn’t be a shocker, but periodically he stretches the ice with a pass that leaves you scratching your head wondering how he was even able to get the puck through. He has the ability to skate the puck out of danger and I would like to see him use that ability more often.

While not a big hitter, Juolevi uses his size to separate the opposition from the puck. His skating allows him to close gaps quickly and he has a very active stick. He’ll battle along the boards for pucks and uses his hockey smarts along with his size to win battles. Shying away from physicality is not part of his game.

Juolevi is averaging 22:57 of even strength time on ice. He plays in every situation and with his powerplay and penalty killing time is at 30 plus minutes of time on ice per game. His 3 goals on 38 shots to date have him at an 8% shooting percentage.

Two characteristics you’ll find attached to Juolevi the most often are poise and calm. And he has those in abundance.

OHL General Manager’s Poll

A survey I have done in past seasons is to poll the General Managers of the Ontario Hockey League teams with this: List your top 3 goaltenders, defencemen and forwards and the order they would be selected in the 2016 National Hockey League Draft.

This season I have expanded the survey to include head coaches, goaltending coaches, and directors of scouting as well as assistant general managers.

Players were given 7 points for a first place ranking, 4 points for second place and 1 point for third place. Based on the number of responses received, the maximum points a player could receive are 357 points.

Jakob Chychrun - courtesy Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Jakob Chychrun – courtesy Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Only one player received unanimous first place votes from all respondents: Sarnia Sting defenceman Jakob Chychrun. Of those 51 respondents, the vast majority, 40, had London Knights defenceman Olli Juolevi as their second choice.

The battle for top goaltender was for all intents and purposes a tie. Dylan Wells of the Peterborough Petes and Evan Cormier of the Saginaw Spirit ended with 24 first place votes apiece. The difference being Cormier received one fewer second place vote and an extra third place vote.

Among the forwards, the London Knights Matthew Tkachuk was the overwhelming favorite receiving 50 of a possible 51 first place votes. Tkachuk didn’t receive a second or third place vote. Now some of you may think that’s a General Manager trying to get a better result for his own player, but consider this: The one vote that went against him went to his London teammate Max Jones.

Compared to polls from previous seasons, the battle for goaltender has never been so tight – there was always a clear cut favorite: MacKenzie Blackwood, Alex Nedeljkovic, Spencer Martin and Malcolm Subban to name a few.

On defence, the only time we’ve had clear choices were Aaron Ekblad and Darnell Nurse. Up front, of course there was Connor McDavid a year ago, but you have to go back to Gabriel Landeskog at the beginning of the 2010-11 season to find an overwhelming favorite.

Here are the results:

Goaltenders 1st 2nd 3rd Total
Dylan Wells Peterborough Petes 24 18 1 241
Evan Cormier Saginaw Spirit 24 17 2 238
Tyler Parsons London Knights 22 27 115
Honorable Mentions
Troy Timpano Sudbury Wolves
Joseph Raaymakers Soo Greyhounds
Defencemen 1st 2nd 3rd Total
Jakob Chychrun Sarnia Sting 51 357
Olli Juolevi London Knights 40 4 192
Michail Sergachev Windsor Spitfires 3 3 18
Honorable Mentions
Noah Carroll Guelph Storm
Markus Niemelainen Saginaw Spirit
Nicolas Mattinen London Knights
Forwards 1st 2nd 3rd Total
Matthew Tkachuk London Knights 50 350
Max Jones London Knights 1 41 4 192
Alexander Nylander Mississauga Steeheads 4 44 60
Honorable Mentions
Michael McLeod Mississauga Steeheads
Logan Brown Windsor Spitfires