Canucks use No. 5 pick on defenceman Olli Juolevi

 

 
 
 
 
The Canucks went with a puck-moving defenceman, Olli Juolevi, with the fifth pick in the NHL Draft on Friday.
 

The Canucks went with a puck-moving defenceman, Olli Juolevi, with the fifth pick in the NHL Draft on Friday.

Photograph by: Bruce Bennett, Getty Images

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BUFFALO, N.Y. — It didn’t quite go the way the Vancouver Canucks had hoped.

The Columbus Blue Jackets shocked the First Niagara Center when, with the third overall pick, they passed on Jesse Puljujärvi, instead taking Pierre-Luc Dubois.

It left the Oilers with an easy selection of Puljujärvi at No. 4.

That meant the Canucks had three choices.  Take their top-ranked defenceman, London Knights’ Olli Juolevi, draft a top scorer in Matthew Tkachuk, or trade down.

The Canucks chose to go with the defenceman, passing on Tkachuk, who put up 20 goals in 18 playoff games, much of it on a wonky ankle.

The Canucks hadn’t taken a D-man in the first round since 2005 when they selected Luc Bourdon.

The crowd gasped when the Canucks made the move, but Juolevi was seen by many as the best blueliner in the draft. Vancouver GM Jim Benning has long liked what Juolevi brings. He’s a player who is above average in just about every area, but not necessarily elite in any one skill-set.

Juolevi is smart and a very good puck mover who should also contribute on the power play someday. It seems unlikely he’d be able to make the Canucks out of training camp, but the team is open to that.

The Canucks had hoped Dubois would fall to them at No. 5 because of his mix of speed, size and two-way play. Vancouver kept saying they believed he would be a centre, while the consensus in the scouting community seemed to have Dubois as a future winger. It’s doubtful Columbus would have taken him with the third overall pick if it viewed Dubois as a winger in the NHL.

The Canucks were surrounded by intrigue leading into the first round, much of it they initiated.

A loose Benning told media Thursday he was interested in signing Milan Lucic, adding that he also planned to call Steven Stamkos’s agent and had already called the Montreal Canadiens to feel out a possible P.K. Subban trade.

His Stamkos and Subban items drew the ire of the league, which spoke with him before the first round began in Buffalo Friday night.

Teams other than Tampa can’t speak with Stamkos until Saturday. It’s believed that what Benning did was considered tampering according to NHL bylaws.

The Subban case is more borderline, but someone complained to the league about those comments as well.

jbotchford@postmedia.com

twitter.com/botchford

 
 
 
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The Canucks went with a puck-moving defenceman, Olli Juolevi, with the fifth pick in the NHL Draft on Friday.
 

The Canucks went with a puck-moving defenceman, Olli Juolevi, with the fifth pick in the NHL Draft on Friday.

Photograph by: Bruce Bennett, Getty Images

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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