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Getting to know Montreal Canadiens 56th overall selection Jacob Olofsson

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The Swedish centre plays a mature, responsible game

2018 NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Montreal Canadiens entered day two of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft holding four second-round picks. With the third of those picks, at 56th-overall, the Canadiens selected centreman Jacob Olofsson.

Olofsson spent the season with Timrå of HockeyAllsvenskan, the second division of professional hockey in Sweden, after appearing in 14 games for the club the year before. His efforts in Allsvenskan earned him the Golden Cage, awarded to the top junior-aged player in the league, while also helping Timrå earn promotion to the SHL for the 2018-19 season.

A tall, mature centre, Olofsson can best be described as a “safe” pick for a Canadiens staff that has gone a bit higher risk with their other selections in this round.

There seems to be some agreement that the 6’3” pivot has a high floor as a prospect, and that’s due to his responsibility and willingness to compete defensively. Olofsson is a relentless back-checker, dropping deep into his own zone to pursue the puck and interrupt passing lanes.

Olofsson is praised for his skating as well as his puck handling ability, which makes him a great player to give the puck to in transition. He can carry the puck through the middle and into the offensive zone, and rarely makes a bad decision in possession.

That decision-making may be his best asset, as he’s a high-IQ player who can play the game very quickly in the sense that it takes him very little time to read a play and react accordingly.

The Piteå-native has been criticized, however, for not being able to put it all together offensively. This is a player with many tools at his disposal, but who struggles to make use of them all.

While scouts like his tendency to make simple, smart plays, he sometimes does so at times that he could have been more selfish, given that he has the natural skills to do so.

For a player with as much talent as Olofsson possesses, scouts have been frustrated with his consistency, as he has disappeared for stretches — most notably on the international stage.

There is certainly some untapped offensive potential in Olofsson, but whether it will come out remains to be seen. If nothing else, he projects to safely become 3rd-line centre at the NHL level, capable of pressuring the opposition in the defensive and neutral zones, and winning possession back for his team.

Scouting

Hockey Prospect Black Book

He’s got a pro-frame, soft-hands which he can use effortlessly to go around players in one-on-one situations and can skate. We have seen him keep up with some of the faster players in this draft class when aggressively backchecking and he’s good at transitioning the puck from the neutral zone over the offensive-end.

Future Considerations

A smart forward. With the puck on his stick he can react quickly, mixing soft and sharp feeds to his teammates. He’s shown he can handle deployment on both special teams. Defensively, he’s not a cheater. He backchecks hard and work hard along the wall. He doesn’t yet use his size to punish opponents, but he knows how to hit – and how to hit hard.

Rankings

Future Considerations: #31
Hockey Prospect: #34
The Hockey News: #23
Bob McKenzie: #40
EOTP Consensus Ranking: #30

Ranked consistently above the 56th-slot where the Canadiens managed to nab him, Olofsson provides excellent value with this pick.

He’s a player who likely fell due to the concern that he may not develop into much of a point-producer. Nevertheless, he brings a complete game, and is very likely to see some action in the NHL. It's too early to say where he goes from there.

After reaching on the likes of Alexander Romanov earlier in the draft, this is a safe pick from the Habs, and one that further insulates a prospect pool at centre that is now looking a lot healthier than it did just a few days ago.