It’s hard to keep defenseman Dylan Olsen in one place for too long.
When the 20-year-old defenseman was drafted out of the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks in 2008, he was on his way to the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Following a year and a half in college, Olsen signed an entry-level contract and moved on to the Rockford IceHogs, with a stop at the World Junior Championships for good measure. Now, Olsen has an eye on the final step up: to Chicago and the NHL, and he knows this week’s Prospect Camp is the place to start.
“I came here with a lot of confidence,” he told reporters Friday. “I’ve had the pro experience now; I’ve been [at Prospect Camp] for three years now. I came in here knowing what I needed to do; I know what it takes to be a pro hockey player. This is another stepping stone. Come September in Training Camp, I want to go out there and prove why I deserve to be there.”
Now with half a year of pro hockey under his belt, not to mention a silver medal from the 2011 World Junior Championships, Olsen says he feels more comfortable with himself and his game. There is room to improve, of course, but he says that he also wants to help the younger players become acclimated to the demands of the pro-style game.
“I knew there were going to be a lot of new guys here and this is a brand-new experience for them,” Olsen says. “I came out wanting to play my game, and prove why I can handle the pro game, but I also wanted to help the young guys out, too.”
Like so many other players his age, Olsen says that the biggest challenge since moving up to the AHL is the pace of the game. He credits the Blackhawks’ coaching and development staff with bringing him along slowly, and letting him adapt to the faster style at his own time.
“I got to Rockford earlier this year and they slowly put me in the lineup, just so I could learn and take my time,” he says. “After that, I felt good out there. I kept up with the speed and size of the players. Overall, I thought it was a good season. I’ve had to work on my foot speed and gap control. That was the main key. That’s what I’ve worked hard on all offseason.”
Olsen will continue to hone his game this week and throughout the rest of the summer, with an eye toward making an impression come Training Camp in September.
“This will be my first experience playing with NHL players. It will be exciting,” he says. “I’m going to enjoy it, but I also know that I will be going in there, competing for a job. I want to prove that I belong here."