The Florida Panthers have placed 23 year old defenseman Olli Juolevi on waivers today. The move, according to Frank Seravalli, is to make room to recall goaltender Spencer Knight.
Juolevi was selected 5th overall back in the 2016 Draft, ahead of Mikhail Sergachev (9th). For those who don’t know him, he is a very smooth skater and is known as a puck-moving defenseman. Standing at 6’2″, he needs to add a bit of weight for the NHL as 182 lbs for his frame is a little light. Not the most physical defenseman, he has good offensive instinct and he can be counted on defensively, as most Finnish players are.
The Canadiens are likely to trade pending UFAs Ben Chiarot, Brett Kulak and Chris Wideman on defense. As the team has already claimed Sami Niku and Kale Clague this season, Juolevi has more potential than the other two and is a low risk, potentially high reward player.
The only downfall of picking him up is adding another contract to the team. After trading Michael McNiven, the Canadiens went down to 47 contracts so picking up Juolevi would bring them back to 48, where they were before that trade. That being said, Kulak and Wideman would only bring back later picks. Also, other pending UFAs Mathieu Perreault and Cedric Paquette could also be traded for picks by trade deadline, so the number of contracts aren’t as much of an issue as it seems.
The Florida Panthers have been one of the teams most interested in Ben Chiarot as they have a big hole on the left side on the top-4. Already a very solid team, adding Chiarot would elevate them as contenders in the Eastern Conference, in a better position to compete with their Florida state opponents, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Newly appointed Special Advisor to Hockey Operations Vincent Lecavalier has been at the last two Panthers’ games.
While I thought that Owen Tippett would be interesting return for Chiarot, he hasn’t played since February 16th so Lecavalier didn’t see him those two games. But 23 year old center Eetu Luostarinen was in the line-up. Drafted in the second round (42nd overall) by the Carolina Hurricanes, Luostarinen is a good two-way center who skates well, is coachable and has good hockey sense.
Let’s keep an eye on the Panthers, shall we? And why not pick Juolevi in the meantime?
Potential Destinations – Goaltending & Defense by Bob Trask