Olli Juolevi is holding a pretty apt impression of what the Detroit Red Wings once were, as well as who they currently are.
“It’s a pretty legendary organization here and of course a lot of young guys coming up to the team,” Juolevi said. “It’s an exciting opportunity.”
UPDATE: The #RedWings today claimed defenseman Olli Juolevi off waivers from the Florida Panthers.
Additionally, center Joe Veleno has been assigned to the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins. pic.twitter.com/6IPkthncBM
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) March 6, 2022
Yes, opportunity is knocking for Juolevi, following his claim on waivers by the Red Wings from the Florida Panthers. When he’ll be getting the chance to be answering that bell is likely to come later than sooner.
Detroit coach Jeff Blashill will be playing no defensemen before their time.
“I think sometimes you put a guy into a game too early when he’s not comfortable with any systems,” Blashill said after Juolevi was finishing his first practice with the Red Wings on Monday. “It’s a lot to ask sometimes.”
Juolevi A Strong Puck Mover
The scouting report on Juolevi is that his strength is as a puck mover.
“I can make plays, break out the puck and get the puck to our forwards,” Juolevi said. “That way I help the team.”
The transaction reports indicate that Juolevi is a team mover. The fifth player chosen in the 2016 NHL entry draft, Juolevi, 23, is already with his third NHL team. Oddly enough, Detroit’s own 2016 first rounder, defenseman Dennis Cholowski, also flamed out with the club that drafted him and is now on his third NHL team.
“For whatever reason it didn’t go right in Vancouver and it hasn’t gone right in Florida,” Blashill said. “That doesn’t mean it will or won’t here.”
A Roll Of The Dice For Red Wings
The Red Wings are going to be revamping their defense, possibly in short order. The makeover began Monday with the arrival of Juolevi and the placing on waivers of veteran Danny DeKeyser. More reshaping could be caused by the March 21 NHL trade deadline.
Does the 6-foot-2, 182-pound Juolevi have a place as part of the future of this franchise? There’s no better time to find out than now.
“Obviously, there’s very little risk involved,” Blashill admitted.
In past seasons, Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman has brought in the likes of Madison Bowey, Cody Goloubef and Christian Djoos to see if they’d be a fit along the Detroit blueline. That none of them are still here shows that they weren’t.
The rest of this season is Juolevi’s chance to earn a home in Detroit, to prove that he’s an NHL player.
“We’re trying to win games every night, for sure but we also understand as an organization we’re trying to let our young guys grow,” Blashill said. “When you’re a team that’s considered to be a Cup contender certainly like Florida is, or a team that probably had lots of pressure to try and make the playoffs like Vancouver did, sometimes you don’t allow young players to live through some of those mistakes and things like that.
“We’ve certainly done that with a number of our young players. So it could be a good spot for him. But we’ll see.”