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Report Card: Jacob Olofsson’s season was a step in the right direction

Injuries got in the way once more, and his health remains the most concerning factor going forward.

Skellefteå AIK

Jacob Olofsson changed teams from Timrå IK, who finished last in the 2019 SHL table, to Skellefteå AIK, a team perceived as a middle-six club in the SHL pre-season. Instead, his new team will finish the year as one of the top teams in the league.

Olofsson endured a tough summer camp, as his new team is famous for its off-season training, but it seemed to have benefited him. He looked bigger and stronger than he did last season, and was placed on the third line and also got time on the power play. It was evident that he was comfortable in the role, even if the points didn’t show up at first. His underlying numbers were all good and he got chances from his coach, Tommy Samuelsson.

While the forward was out injured early after a concussion sustained in Champions Hockey League play, it was in the same tournament that his season started to turn around. When Skellefteå needed to equalize in the dying seconds in the last group-stage game, he was on the ice with the goalie pulled and set up the tying goal, a goal that sent Skellefteå into the knockout phase of the competition.

Elite Prospects

While only playing third-line minutes in 24 games this season, he had two goals and seven assists to his name. While these numbers can be considered on the lower end, it is important to know that the team plays an offensive style and relies heavily on a first line led by Joakim Lindström.

Unfortunately for Olofsson, his injury and subsequent reaggravation of the shoulder injury took him off Skellefteå’s roster just when everything started to work and the team rose up through the standings.

Olofsson also made use of his great vision, one of the things that scouts highlighted in his draft year, and something that he couldn’t really showcase with the defensive role he got with Timrå last season.

Pluses

Olofsson really started to get the hang of things this season. He built up his body and he got to play a more complete game, with the defensive role he had in Timrå last year clearly helping him.

He looked secure leading the second power-play unit until he got injured. The unit played with more skill and finesse rather than speed, and the Canadiens prospect led the play from his position along the half-wall.

His overall play benefited from his bigger, more mature body. He threw heavy hits and was good on the forecheck, and his added strength also helped him in the faceoff circle.

Minuses

His point production was starting to add up, but he still doesn’t use his shot enough. He seems to prefer getting into the dirty area in front of the net to score from in close rather than using his shot from a bit of distance.

It is never good to finish the season early, especially after having reaggravated a serious injury that had already kept him off the Swedish World Junior roster. The surgery required will leave a question mark over his long-term capacity, and leaves everyone wondering if the injury can happen again.

Discussion

It was clear form the start that Olofsson had taken a step forward this season. There is nowhere to hide on a team like Skellefteå. Olofsson stood up to be counted, and his coach rewarded him with increased usage in the offensive zone.

It seemed to me that Olofsson had become more professional and comfortable in the team’s system. He also looked more secure with the added responsibilities, and his confidence clearly benefited from the offensive usage. It would have been very interesting to see what kind of role he would have received when Tom Pyatt left the team partway through the season.

Grade: C

Olofsson is graded on the 24 games of SHL action and the seven games in the Champions Hockey League, and it is a positive grade in the end. The injury happened at the worst possible time for him, just before the WJC, and the reaggravation happened when the team started to play really well and climbed in the standings.

The increased off-season work that his new team is known for was good for him. and now a prolonged period before the 2020-21 year will allow him to build up his body even more. It will be interesting to see what role he carves out for himself on what will be one of the SHL’s top teams next season.