There was a lot of concern around Vancouver Canucks prospect Olli Juolevi in mid-November when it was announced that he would be absent from the Utica Comets roster to be evaluated by the team’s medical staff for a “lower body ailment unrelated to his recent knee injury.”
Of course any Juolevi injury news is troubling given the struggles he’s had getting his career off the ground.
But the last sentence of that statement from the team in particular stood out:
“There is no timeline for his return to play.”
That many to believe that Juolevi might be out long term. That fear was put to (at least temporary) rest earlier this month when the Canucks announced that Juolevi—who was dealing with a hip issue—was fit to return to play.
And he returned in style, registering three assists in his first two games back with the Comets.
He was even named the second star of the game in his second contest back, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Providence Bruins on Saturday, December 7.
He also earned some praise for his performance in another shootout loss, a night earlier to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
One scouting report even said that Juolevi’s skating seems stronger than before he left the team.
It would obviously be a massive boon to the Canucks if Juolevi, the fifth overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, could turn into a top four defenceman.
It might be wishful thinking for Canucks fans to hope that he’ll be in the big leagues this year given the relative depth on the blueline at the NHL level along with the desire to fully develop Juolevi’s game.
But if he stays healthy and keeps playing well, he’ll be on the Canucks roster next season—if not right out of camp, then when injuries inevitably hit. It may have seemed bleak a couple weeks ago, but the future still looks fairly bright for the rearguard.
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