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2021 NHL Draft prospect profile: Can Oskar Olausson live up to his athletic potential?

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HV71’s young forward has all the physical tools you could want in a winger prospect.

Sweden v Czech Republic: Preliminary Round Group B - 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

Oskar Olausson is one of a handful of Swedes with the potential to hear their name called on the first night of the 2021 NHL Draft. Last year, he made his debut in the SHL, holding a spot on the HV71 men’s squad for 16 games.

As the season wore on, it became clear that his team was not in the best shape and would have to fight for every inch to avoid a relegation battle. This meant that Olausson’s playing time decreased and he was subsequently loaned to HockeyAllsvenskan outfit Södertälje SK to get more consistent minutes. This was a fitting solution for both HV71 and for Olausson himself since it had become obvious throughout the season that he had grown out of playing hockey with his peers in the Under-20 league.

Birthplace: Stockholm, Sweden
Date of Birth: November 10, 2002
Shoots: Left
Position: LW/RW
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 181 lbs.
Current Team: HV71

Olausson is a well-rounded winger with both the size and the mobility to make lives difficult for the opposition. Currently listed at 181 lbs, he will need to gain a few more pounds before making the jump across the Atlantic, but such is the case for most 18-year-old prospects.

Elite Prospects

More of a shooter than a playmaker, Olausson carries a blasting wrist shot, which he enjoys firing once he has created space for himself. Being an excellent skater, he manages to find that space more often than not.

The critics don’t stem from Olausson’s skill level or his athletic ability. On the contrary, the scouts seem very much in agreement that he has all the tools necessary to play hockey on the highest level. What some scouts have come to question is his mental ability. As stated, Olausson has all the tools necessary to be a force on the ice, but up to this point in his career, the force only comes in flashes.

That can still be fine as long as the effort is always there, but there are times when Olausson just doesn’t seem to feel it and doesn’t engage. A highly talented player with great physical tools but with a seemingly low motor needs to be so superior in his skill level that it doesn’t matter if he takes some time off every now and then. So far in his career, Olausson is not on that level of excellence.

This is why next season will be so interesting for young Oskar. Since HV71 ultimately lost the negative playoffs against Brynäs and was relegated to HockeyAllsvenskan, he will get his chance to shine against opponents in the Swedish second tier starting this autumn.

With his team starting off on a new cycle, it will be inevitable to rely on their strong youth program as a way of keeping the costs down. Together with Philadelphia Flyers’ defensive prospect Emil Andrae and Carolina Hurricanes’ Zion Nybeck, Olausson will be expected to infuse a youthful optimism in the suffering Jönköping club as they commence the difficult climb back to the top tier of Swedish hockey.

Rankings

Elite Prospects: #14
HockeyProspect: #24
FCHockey: #38
McKeen’s: #20
NHL Central Scouting: #13 (EU Skaters)
Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): #20
Corey Pronman (The Athletic) #26
TSN/Bob McKenzie: #34

As we can see from above, most draft analysts have Olausson firmly established as a first-round prospect. Then again, there are always players who end up falling down the board for no apparent reason other than teams preferring other prospects ahead of them. Could the Montreal Canadiens be a suitor for Oskar if he is still on the board towards the end of the first round? It’s possible. Marc Bergevin and Trevor Timmins do love their physical wingers with skating ability and in Olausson they could get their hands on a talent with Josh Anderson-esque power skating and an otherwise similar skill set to what Joel Armia possessed as a young prospect coming out of Finland.

Actually, his body measurements are eerily similar to those that Armia possessed when he entered the draft in 2011. The descriptions of Olausson also sound a lot like what comparison draft analysts and scouts had to say about Armia one decade ago — very mobile for his size and equipped with an above-average shot.

HockeyProspecting

Armia was selected 16th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in 2011. It seems quite possible that Olausson will be selected around the same position in 2021. One team will fall in love with his athletic tools and imagine they can straighten out any possible question marks in the mental aspects of his game. This means that, barring any trade-up, he will probably be gone by the time Bergevin and Timmins rush to the virtual podium to hand in their selection.

Below you will find our interview with Olausson’s U-20 head coach, former Kitchener Ranger Patrik Andersson. Andersson speaks glowingly about Olausson, his skating pace, and his future in the game. We also hear about the secrets behind HV71’s successful youth program, which has seen 11 players drafted in the last five drafts alone.

Last year, HV71 got an ultimate stamp of approval for its talent development. Connor Bedard, the presumed top selection of the 2023 NHL Draft, joined them for a month-long stint while the Canadian junior leagues were still shut down due to Covid-19. Andersson talks about what it meant to have Bedard present and what his players could learn from the then 15-year-old wonder kid.