Ben Kuzma: Henrik lauds Ring of Honour inductee Ohlund, potential of Juolevi

 

 
 
 
 
Mattias Ohlun will join the Canucks' pantheon next fall.
 

Mattias Ohlun will join the Canucks' pantheon next fall.

Photograph by: Ric Ernst, The Province

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Henrik Sedin doesn’t know much about Olli Juolevi. But he knows a lot about Matthias Ohlund.

On the same day the Vancouver Canucks watched coveted forward Pierre-Luc Dubois go to the Columbus Blue Jackets third overall before selecting the puck-moving Juolevi fifth overall Friday in the National Hockey League draft at Buffalo, they also announced Ohlund as the latest addition to the Ring of Honour at Rogers Arena. He will be honoured Dec. 16 before a game against his former club, the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“He was a calming influence on all of us,” said Sedin, the Canucks captain. “He was very professional. He wasn’t too outspoken in the dressing room, but he just showed us the every day life in the NHL and it was very important for us. To be around him on a daily basis and to see all the things he fought through and playing with broken bones, it was amazing.”

Ohlund is the franchise scoring leader for defencemen with 93 goals and 325 points in 11 Canuck seasons. His ability to play a sound, strong and consistent game was trumped by returning from a career-threatening injury. He was stuck in the right eye by a deflected puck in a 1999 pre-season game, required surgery and missed 38 games. As a leader and mentor to young countrymen like Henrik and Daniel Sedin and Alex Edler, his place in the ring was only delayed by still being under contract to the Lightning and having that deal expire July 1. He has been on injured reserve since 2011 following surgery on both knees.

“This was definitely unexpected and it’s very exciting,” said Ohlund, the 13th overall pick in the 1994 draft, who joins the late Pat Quinn, Kirk McLean, Harold Snepsts, Thomas Gradin and Orland Kurtenbach in the ring. “Playing in a Canadian market and in a great city was special and I knew of the history here with Swedish players like Thomas Gradin and Pat Quinn drafted me and he was a very special person.

“We had some competitive teams and I’m not surprised that Henrik, Daniel and Alex are still having success. Hard-working guys and low-maintenance guys and certainly deserving of success.”

Meanwhile, Joulevi had nine goals and 33 assists for the London Knights in 57 Ontario Hockey League games last season, helped Finland claim the 2016 world junior championship and had seven assists in four games as the Knights captured the Memorial Cup. The 6-2, 182-pound Helsinki native was the top-ranked blue-liner in this draft, but the next test is to get his physical stature and game to NHL level, according to Henrik Sedin.

“It doesn’t matter who you pick, they have to have the drive to get better,” said the Canucks veteran centre. “I haven’t seen him enough to know what kind of player he is and it can be a lottery to see what players can be. But if he can be that offensive defenceman for us, that’s great and that’s all you can ask for.”

Added Canucks winger Jake Virtanen: “I played against him at the world juniors. He was solid and made plays. He has a good shot and is really smart and was probably the best defenceman at the Memorial Cup.”

bkuzma@postmedia.com
Twitter.com/benkuzma

 
 
 
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Mattias Ohlun will join the Canucks' pantheon next fall.
 

Mattias Ohlun will join the Canucks' pantheon next fall.

Photograph by: Ric Ernst, The Province

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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