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2018 NHL Draft prospect profile: Jacob Olofsson, the Swedish Army knife

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Olofsson breaks the mould of the modern Swedish centre, incorporating a bit of an offensive element.

Image credit: SportsLogos.net

The golden cage, awarded to the best junior player in HockeyAllsvenskan (Sweden’s second division) was awarded to Jacob Olofsson this season as he beat out teammates Jonathan Dahlén and Filip Hallander in the process.

In Allsvenskan, he put up 21 points (10G, 11A) over 43 games. A good comparison in this case would be Filip Forsberg, who scored 17 points (8G, 9A) in 43 games of his draft season for Leksand in the same competition.

If that wasn’t enough to gain the interest of NHL scouts and GMs, Olofsson played both with Sweden’s U18 and U20 team this season. The problem with Olofsson was that while he thrived in Timrå, he didn’t excel on the international stage with Sweden, making it hard to predict where he stands among his peers.

Birthplace: Piteå, Sweden
Date of birth: February 8, 2000
Shoots: Left
Position: Centre
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 192 lbs.
Youth team: Bodens HF
Team: Timrå IK (HockeyAllsvenskan)

Image credit: EliteProspects

Olofsson never really looked out of place, not even from the start of the season, for Timrå. The games he played in Allsvenskan last year looked to have spurred him on to work hard in the summer to take his game to the next level. He took hold of a spot on the team and never let go; on the contrary, he stepped up his game and moved further up the lineup.

Having had the standard reputation of a stable two-way centre, Olofsson got stronger as the season progressed. In the end, he was on the first power-play unit, where he took up position along the half-wall, and Timrå benefited from his disguised and highly accurate wrist shot along with his accurate passing. He is a Swedish Army knife; he has many tools in the box, but none of them really stands out. With the exception being his hockey IQ.

Olofsson is strong on the puck and he has very good possession skills. His soft hands are used proficiently in one-on-one situations when he can move around a defender effortlessly, and he uses good speed on his skates to gain separation.

His defensive game is the more impressive part of his game. He backtracks willingly and is happy to engage his opponent. He reads the game well and he is quick to see where the play is going. His hockey IQ also helps him in the transition game where he can exit or enter the zone with good puck control or good passing.

Olofsson needs to be more selfish, trusting himself in the offensive zone a lot more. His shot, while accurate and disguised, needs a bit more weight and speed on it.

He also has a tendency to disappear for long stretches in games, so he needs to be more consistent. He has an engine, but he needs to use it more effectively to reach the NHL.

Rankings

Future Considerations: #31
IIS Hockey: #34
McKeen’s Hockey: #33
Hockey Prospect: #34
NHL Central Scouting: #9 (European Skaters)

Thoughts

The question is if you are looking for a home run swing or a safe bet when it comes to Olofsson. He is a steady player and has all the attributes to develop into an NHL player: hockey IQ, size, puck skills, and good vision. But if you are looking at the second round to swing for the fences or add a boom-or-bust pick, then Olofsson wont be the pick for you. While he has a high floor, there are questions on where his ceiling is, and if it is high enough to become a top-six centre.

It is a thought that many a general manager will have to consider. While not every player succeeds and reaches the NHL, it certainly looks as if Olofsson will get there, and that’s a good result for a team looking to avoid picks like Zachary Fucale and Sebastian Collberg, who were taken around the same range as where Olofsson is projected to get picked.