We’re getting closer to the first round with each passing day. Next up on our rankings, checking in at 35th overall, is a prospect that many consider a first-round talent, Swedish centre Jacob Olofsson.
The list of forwards with a better pro-ready game than Olofsson is a short one. Playing for Timra Ik in the Allsvenskan, Olofsson acquitted himself well defensively and didn’t sacrifice a wealth of offence in the process.
There are no shortage of good qualities in Olofsson’s game, and ample reason to think they auger well for his chances at an NHL career.
- Age/Birthdate: 60 / February 8, 2000
- Birthplace: Pitea, SWE
- Frame: 6-foot-2 / 192 lbs
- Position: Centre
- Handedness: Left
- Draft Year Team: Timra IK (Allsvenskan)
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Despite not contributing a tonne offensively, Olofsson generated favourable on-ice goal results from pretty much the start of the season onward. With Olofsson on the ice, Timra controlled 62.2% of the goals at 5-on-5; his relative mark suggests their ability to control the scoreboard improved by about four percent with him on the ice, too.
Adjusted Scoring (SEAL)
I like to think of Olofsson as something of a Rorschach test for draft analysts — where you rank him says more about you than it does about the player itself. If you tend to value players with a high likelihood of developing into a full-time NHL’er ahead of the boom or bust types, then you’ll have him on the 21st overall side of the spectrum with Craig Button. If you tend to value players with a higher upside at the expense of their floor, then you probably find yourself slotting Olofsson closer to the 34th overall spot similar to Dobber Prospects. Either position is defensible.
Our consolidated rankings at CanucksArmy place him 35th overall, so glean from that what you will.
Olofsson never looked out of place, despite playing in a men’s league in the Allsvenskan. There’s a maturity to his game that you don’t find often among other 17-year-olds. That probably goes a long way toward explaining why he could play centre relatively high in the Timra lineup.
As a defender, Olofsson is relentless. He’s dogged in puck pusuit, especially in back-tracking and is always willing to engage his opponents below the hashmarks. Without the puck, Olofsson’s head is on a swivel, looking to make sure he’s always one or two steps ahead of the play.
Clearly the coaching staff in Timra took a shining to Olofsson as a result. Olofsson regularly played in the team’s top six, often alongside Vancouver Canucks prospect Jonathan Dahlen, and on special teams, where he excelled as a penalty killer.
That’s not where Olofsson’s role on special teams ended, though. As the season progressed, Timra started to use Olofsson on their power play, even on their first unit at times. Usually Olofsson aligned himself on the halfwall in Timra’s 1-3-1 formation, where he was able to take advantage of the sneaky quick release on his wrist shot.
In total, Olofsson contributed 21 points (10 goals and 11 assists) in 43 games for Timra. In the Kvalserian tournament at season’s end where top teams in the Allsvenskan duke it out for a return to Sweden’s top league, the Swedish Hockey League, Olofsson had three goals, helping his team secure the promotion. Olofsson also played for Sweden’s U20 and U18 teams.
There aren’t any glaring holes in Olofsson’s game. Even if he’s not currently posting jaw-dropping offensive totals, the skills and hockey sense are all there. It’s not hard to imagine a scenario where he’s at least capable of contributing at about a bottom-six level in the NHL. You could do a lot worse with the 35th overall pick.
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From Last Word on Hockey
Olofsson projects as a second or third line centre in the NHL, if he can continue his development. He could be the type of player that coaches trust in all situations, and play big minutes. He will need some time to be NHL ready, and it is likely that he spends at least one more season overseas. Olofsson is still growing and putting muscle on his frame. Once he makes his way to North America, he likely needs a bit of AHL time as well. Olofsson’s game is comparable to Ryan O’Reilly, but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on talent or ability.
CanucksArmy’s 2018 NHL Draft Rankings