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Young Gun Q&A: Dylan Olsen

by Glenn Odebralski / Florida Panthers
Defenseman Dylan Olsen celebrates his first NHL goal scored on Dec. 5 against Winnipeg (Getty Images).

The Panthers young gun defenseman discusses his transition from playing in college at University of Minnesota-Dulut to the pros, the trade that brought him to the Panthers, what he likes to do on his off days and more.

You've got a couple of years under your belt as a pro now, what has been the biggest transition from college at University of Minnesota-Duluth for you?

Olsen - I think coming into the league to begin with, the biggest transition in coming from college and World Juniors, is that you're obviously playing against older guys. There are a lot more experienced guys who have been in the league for 10+ years. The guys are a lot bigger and stronger and the game was a little bit faster with their systems and everything. It was a lot different from what I was used to so I think coming into the professional leagues, that was the biggest thing I can think of.

You talk about World Juniors. Playing on Team Canada in 2010 in Buffalo with Erik Gudbranson and now you guys are on the same team, what was that like playing with him and Quinton Howden and now you're here on the Panthers together?

Olsen - It was an unbelievable experience playing for Canada. Any time you get to represent your country, especially in a tournament like that, it's amazing. You grow up as a kid watching that tournament every Christmas and it was an honor to be a part of that team. Obviously the outcome wasn't what we wanted but you made a lot of good friendships along the way.

Being paired with Guddy back then, and I knew him a couple of years even before that, made it a lot easier coming in here. We had that friendship back then and I came in here and there was no awkward stage of getting to know each other. We just picked up where we left off and that made it a lot easier to play together.

Going back to the trade in November that brought you to Florida from Chicago, how did you find out about it?

Olsen - It's funny actually. Jimmy Hayes and I along with a bunch of other guys from Rockford (AHL) were in our room playing cards and the GM called and he wanted Jimmy and I to come up to his room. We had no idea what was going on. He sat us down and told us that we were traded to the Florida Panthers. We just sat there in shock for a minute.

I couldn't believe what he had said because I had never been traded before so it was a bit of a shock at first but I looked at it more and I looked at the positives. It was a new start of coming into a new organization. It's been nothing but positives so far.

You had a great start to your Florida career after making your Panthers debut in picking up seven points in a seven game stretch. What was that start like for you?

Olsen - I haven't been really too offensive since I became a pro. Growing up I was more of an offensive defenseman. I put up pretty good numbers when I was younger but coming in here, they gave me every opportunity to play well and contribute and help the team win. I was fortunate enough to get my first NHL goal here and pick up a couple of points along the way. Playing with Guddy obviously helped. He put up a couple of goals too and played well and just that chemistry between the two of us made it a lot easier to be able to contribute offensively.

With how well you were doing, how difficult was it to miss time due to injury and then try to come back from that?

Olsen - It stinks. Any time you get hurt it's not a good thing. You want to do whatever you can to get healthy as fast as you can to get back in the lineup. With the injury that I had, I didn't think it would take that long to fully come back but things happen. I'm back now. I've played four games since I've been back from the injury. I feel good and I just have to keep working hard to remain in the lineup.

As a young defenseman, they say it takes awhile to get fully acclimated to the league. What are you looking to improve on?

Olsen - Realistically I just have to work on everything. From the d-zone all the way to producing offensively. First of all as a defenseman I have to take care of the defensive zone and shut down the other team's top guys, take away all of their options, be tough and physical and be able to get the puck and get the first pass out of the zone. After that then just be able to make a quick transition and get into the offensive zone and get pucks on net and do what I can to help out offensively.

You have an off day. How do you spend it?

Olsen - I really don't do much. I like to take it easy, probably hang out with a couple of the guys and either playing cards or video games. It's really about letting the body recover after a game.

What kind of video games do you usually play?

Olsen - It ranges. We get some pretty heated battles in NHL14, Call of Duty and a little bit of golf every now and then but it's all in good fun.

We don't have specific teams for NHL14. We will use the random feature on the game. It makes it more fair. Win or lose, it's all for fun.

What TV shows are you watching?

Olsen - I have a couple of shows. I watch How I Met Your Mother. I thought that was a pretty funny show. I tried to get into Breaking Bad but couldn't really get into it. My brother is all over me to watch Walking Dead. He's tried to get me to watch that but I really haven't gotten into it yet. It may be on my list for the next show to check out.

You've only been here a couple of months but do you have a favorite South Florida spot yet?

Olsen - There's actually this really small Italian place by Vacation Village. I'm not sure of the name but a couple of the guys have been there a couple of times. The food is phenomenal.

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