The Detroit Red Wings claimed defenseman Olli Juolevi off waivers from the Florida Panthers Sunday. Juolevi, 23, was fifth overall pick in 2016 draft by the Vancouver Canucks and hasn’t lived up to expectations.
The Canucks traded Juolevi to Panthers for defenseman Nosh Juulsen and Juho Lammikko at the start of season. He played 10 games for the Panthers this season and didn’t register a point.
To make room for Juolevi, the Red Wings sent center Joe Veleno to their Grand Rapids American League affiliate.
The Red Wings now have nine defensemen on the roster, but that may not be for long.
Red Wings Might Deal D Men
With the trade deadline looming, the Red Wings may have anticipated the need for more defensemen. The Red Wings have four defensemen (Nick Leddy, Marc Staal, Troy Stecher and Danny Dekeyser) who could potentially be moved as rentals. All four of are potential unrestricted free agents this summer.
Leddy ($5.5 million cap hit) is likely to be moved and Staal ($2 million) has a decent shot at being dealt if that is his preference. Stecher ($1.7 million) is a maybe. It’s unlikely that Dekeyser ($5 million) will be traded.
The 6-foot-2 Juolevi showed offensive potential when he played in the Ontario Hockey League for the London Knights. and for TPS Turku in Finland. He also posted 38 points in 63 games over two seasons with the AHL’s Utica (New York) team. Juolevi played 23 games for Vancouver in 2020-21.
Juolevi struggled in Vancouver’s training camp, and displeased coaches by not being able to handle a hard skate near the end of training camp. Vancouver fans weren’t happy that the Canucks took Juolevi just ahead of Matthew Tkachuk and Clayton Keller in the 2016 draft. The Canucks traded Juolevi when it was clear he would be odd man out when cuts were made.
While in Vancouver, Juolevi showed himself to be a good penalty killer. He still owns the potential to be a good transition defenseman.
Meanwhile, Veleno is back in Grand Rapids again. He hasn’t proven he can consistently score at the NHL level. However, Veleno has produced in the AHL. He has 10 points in 11 games for Grand Rapids.