Red Wings pick up Panthers defenseman Olli Juolevi off waivers

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The Detroit Red Wings picked up promising defense prospect Olli Juolevi off waivers today.  After being on the wrong end of a 6-2 thrashing by the Florida Panthers, the Detroit Red Wings selected Juolevi from the Panthers in the hope that he can make an impact at the NHL level.

Juolevi was originally a 1st round draft pick, 5th overall by the Vancouver Canucks in 2016.  Juolevi played two seasons of junior hockey for London in the OHL.  After his second season in London, Luolevi signed an entry-level contract with Vancouver.  At age 19, with one year of junior eligibility remaining, Juolevi was loaned to TPS (Liiga).

In 2018, Juolevi started his North American professional career with Utica (AHL).  He played two years in Utica before making his regular season NHL debut with the Canucks.  In 23 NHL games last year, Juolevi scored two goals and added one assist.

At the start of this season, Vancouver traded Juolevi to Florida for forward Juho Lammikko and defenseman Noah Juulsen.  At the time of the trade, Florida General Manager stated ” We are excited to welcome another young defenseman like Olli to our organization.  We look forward to Olli developing with our club as he joins our deepening core on the blueline.”

The experiment didn’t work out in Florida.  The Panthers have one of the deepest bluelines in the NHL and when a roster spot was required for returning players, the Panthers tried to slip him through waivers so that he could go back and play for Charlotte in the AHL.

With a need for left-defensemen, Detroit placed and won a bid for Juolevi’s contract.  The Red Wings have Nick Leddy, Marc Staal, and Danny DeKeyser all becoming UFA’s at the end of the season.  It is presumed that Leddy will be dealt prior to the trade deadline in two weeks.  This necessitated a move by Detroit to shore up their defense.

Juolevi will be given every opportunity to succeed in Detroit.  In limited ice time in Florida, Juolevi was held off the scoresheet in 10 games.  He also chipped in with one assist in three AHL games.  Juolevi is on the final year of his current contract with a $750,000 cap hit.  He will be a RFA at the end of the season.

To open a roster spot for Juolevi, Joe Veleno was reassigned to Grand Rapids (AHL).

Juolevi will be available to play for Detroit on Tuesday night when they play host to Arizona.  Game time is 7:30 PM ET at LCA in Detroit, MI

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