Olli Juolevi to undergo back surgery, should be ready for Canucks camp

Fredrik Karlstrom, left, of Sweden and Olli Juolevi of Finland battle for the puck at the WJC. (Paul Chiasson/CP)

VANCOUVER – The back surgery required by Vancouver Canuck prospect Olli Juolevi will cost him some summer training time but shouldn’t impact his readiness for National Hockey League training camp in September, general manager Jim Benning told Sportsnet.

The Canucks announced Monday on social media that Juolevi, drafted fifth-overall in 2016, will undergo a microdiscectomy after experiencing discomfort in his lower back while training.

Benning said the recovery from surgery should be four-to-six weeks. The procedure to remove a portion of a herniated disc is expected to be performed this week near Juolevi’s home in Finland.

“It’s a setback but not a serious one,” Benning said. “It’s not a complicated procedure. He’ll lose some summer training time but should be working out in four-to-six weeks. He’ll still have time to get to get ready for next season. We don’t expect this to be an issue (at training camp).”

Juolevi, drafted ahead of excellent NHL rookie defencemen Mikhail Sergachev of Tampa and Charlie McAvoy of Boston, is vital to the Canucks’ ongoing rebuild. The organization has built some depth in its prospect pool at forward but lacks Grade-A defence prospects beyond Juolevi, who had a lacklustre training camp with the Canucks last fall and spent the season playing for TPS Turku in Finland’s top professional league.

Juolevi had a good campaign as a 19-year-old, collecting 19 points in 38 games for Turku. He is expected to challenge for an NHL lineup spot next fall.

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