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Olofsson hoping to take center stage with Canadiens

Forward prospect driven to help Montreal strengthen middle

by Sean Farrell / Correspondent

BROSSARD, Quebec -- Jacob Olofsson wants to be part of the solution the Montreal Canadiens are seeking at center.

Olofsson took part in Montreal's four-day development camp from June 28-July 1 and recognized that the Canadiens are focused on producing centers.

"Yeah, of course it's driving me even more to get there one day knowing that there's a spot there," said the 18-year-old native of Pitea, Sweden. "I just want to do everything to be here every day, and not just get a taste of it during the summer in development camp and be a part of Montreal."

The Canadiens selected Olofsson with their third second-round pick (No. 56) of the 2018 NHL Draft.

Trevor Timmins, Montreal's assistant general manager, said he and his staff were pinching themselves when the 6-foot-2, 191-pound forward was available after Montreal had already made its first three picks, including another center, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, in the first round (No. 3).

"Yeah, we couldn't believe it," Timmins said in Dallas on June 23. "Our Swedish scout was going to fall off his seat, and he was going to come over and strangle me if we didn't get him at that time. He already plays in the Allsvenskan league and he was a good player for Timra there. He's a good player. He's another two-way centerman, big, good skater, competes, really good hockey sense."

Olofsson idolized Peter Forsberg growing up, though he shied away from comparing his own game to that of the Hall of Fame center.

"He was a guy who was probably the best Swedish player and how he played on the ice was just incredible," Olofsson said. "I don't see myself as him. He was great offensively. That's something that I know it's coming but I'm still not at that level offensively, but I feel it's an area of my game that I'm improving and it's coming more and more."

In his second season with Timra, Olofsson had 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) in 43 games. He ranked fifth on his team in scoring last season after he had no points in 14 games as a rookie in 2016-17.

"I played a lot of minutes and I kept evolving during the season and I played a solid game and scored some points," Olofsson said.

Olofsson had three goals and one assist in a seven-game playoff series win that gained his team a promotion to the Swedish Hockey League this season. He scored the winning goal in the sixth game of the series as Timra came back from losing three of the first four games against Karlskrona.

"You get a taste of the feeling of winning as a team and how being a team can do anything," Olofsson said. "And that was an eye-opener because even if they were a better team, player by player, we managed to come together as a group and we played for each other every shift, so it was amazing to be a part of that."

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