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European prospect preview: Jacob Olofsson rejoins his team at a new position

The Canadiens prospect finds himself on the wing for a team with strong centre depth, offering a chance to have more offensive impact.

Skellefteå AIK

There has never been any doubt about Jacob Olofsson’s talent, however there has always been a discussion about his work ethic on and off the ice. The long off-season seems to have changed that. One of Skellefteå’s coaches, Stefan Hedlund, has been impressed with the Montreal Canadiens prospect’s rehabilitation after his season-ending shoulder injury.

Olofsson also suffered a concussion this summer, and Mr. Hedlund points out that Olofsson looked for help outside the organisation, something that showcases a new professional approach.

An injury is never good, but the shoulder injury came at an exceptionally bad time for the young forward. He had just started to showcase his skill, and it seemed that he had regained some of the lost confidence that came with fighting at the bottom of the SHL table with Timrå. One can only wonder what would have happened if he had stayed healthy.

The added muscles, built up during his rehab, has strengthened his core and legs, and that has benefited his balance and skating. Interestingly, Mr. Hedlund also mentions that Skellefteå will play Olofsson on the wing. The fact that there are too many centres on the roster means that some of them will have to play out of position, and it should not be seen as a weakness in his development. Both Mr. Hedlund and Tomas Montén, Sweden’s U20 coach, speak highly of Olofsson’s hockey IQ, and learning to play in another position should aid his development and potential future career on the other side of the Atlantic.

Skellefteå was the team that changed Swedish hockey and won the Le Mat’s trophy back to back in 2013 and 2014, however the team is in a generational change and will most likely be fighting in the bottom half of the SHL table. What will that mean for Olofsson’s development?

The added muscle mass and skating improvements should help him in his new role. He should get the chance on the second power play unit that he was quarterbacking last season. During the pre-season games he has looked bigger, more confident, and his balance has really improved. One thing that I would look for is if he can start to shoot more, and from better areas.

“Olofsson is a huge talent, and he really grew last season. He hasn’t paid enough attention to the details, which has caused him to take some hits. He did have some bad luck with his [shoulder] injury that happened just when he started to earn some success. He will be a great asset for Skellefteå this season. If he can start up where he left off it will be a really exciting season for both him and his team. Jacob has an enormous potential. If he can raise the level in his game, then he is close to realise that potential.” — Adam Savonen, Journalist for Norran (Skellefteå’s local paper):

The full interview with Mr. Hedlund can be found here:

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