Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Watch: Canucks prospect Joni Jurmo goes end-to-end for overtime goal

Jurmo looked a little like Bobby Orr, except four inches taller.
Canucks prospect defenceman Joni Jurmo celebrates his overtime game-winning goal for Jukurit in the Finnish Liiga.

The Vancouver Canucks could use some youthful help on defence.

The oldest three players on the Canucks are Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Tyler Myers, and Luke Schenn but the main problem isn’t the age of those defencemen but that the Canucks don’t have any surefire, blue-chip prospect defencemen in the system.

The Canucks’ top prospect on defence is Jack Rathbone but he’s already 23 years old — the same age as Quinn Hughes — and has yet to prove that he even belongs in the NHL, let alone that he can be an impact player. In his few NHL stints, he’s given up far too much defensively and hasn’t made up for it with his offensive game.

What the Canucks really need (aside from drafting a defenceman in the first round of the upcoming draft) is one of the long shots currently in their system to pay off.

For instance, Elias Pettersson 2.0 has had a promising post-draft season, including a selection to Sweden’s 2023 World Junior team. Kirill Kudryavtsev is eighth in the OHL in scoring among defencemen with 39 points in 47 games. There’s still a chance that Filip Johansson, a Minnesota Wild first-round pick who the Canucks signed this offseason, can beat the bust allegations.

Then there’s Joni Jurmo.

Back in 2020, Jurmo got more attention than a typical third-round pick because he was the Canucks’ first pick of the draft, having traded their first and second-round picks in packages for J.T. Miller and Tyler Toffoli. He was an intriguing gamble — a swing-for-the-fences type of pick based on his raw, unrefined ability. 

Jurmo had middling results after getting drafted but a surprise selection to Team Finland for the 2022 World Juniors and a strong showing at the tournament put him back in the conversation as a promising prospect.

At the World Juniors, Jurmo showcased his biggest strength: his ability to evade the forecheck and rush the puck up ice. As a 6’4” defenceman, his skating is something to behold — a legitimate NHL-caliber tool that has largely been missing from the Canucks’ lineup.

On Wednesday in a game for Jukurit in the Finnish Liiga, Jurmo showcased his ability to skate with the puck once again, channeling his inner Bobby Orr to fly down the ice for a fantastic end-to-end goal in overtime.

That’s a superb goal, one that’s only heightened by listening to the excitement in the voice of the Finnish announcer as he rolls the “R” in “Jurmo.” It’s been a while since we’ve seen a play that exciting from a Canucks defenceman not named Quinn Hughes. 

The question for Jurmo is if he can get his mind to catch up to his skating. He has the size and the tools to be an NHL defenceman but he’s struggled at times to put those tools together consistently enough.

Jurmo is averaging just 15:45 in ice time per game for Jukurit this season, primarily playing on the third pairing, though he’s also gotten some minutes on the second power play unit. Beyond that glorious rush in overtime, he has just 10 points in 43 Liiga games, which isn’t quite the next step from his 10 points in 50 games last season.

Still, there’s something to Jurmo that deserves a longer look. He was eminently coachable when he was at the Canucks’ development camp this last offseason, throwing himself into every drill with gusto. He also kept the spirits up of all the other prospects with his cheerful demeanour and seems like a legitimately delightful teammate.

If he’s not getting anything beyond third-pairing minutes behind older defencemen in Finland, perhaps it’s time he comes over to North America for some development in the AHL.