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Olofsson Honed Skill In Sweden And States

by Ben Wolfson / Minnesota Wild

During the 2013 NHL Entry Draft in Newark, NJ, Wild fans waited more than three hours and the second round until their team was finally on the clock. With the 46th-overall pick, Minnesota selected Gustav Olofsson, an 18-year-old Swedish defenseman who had spent the past year with the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL.

His scouting report read much like club’s 2011 first round pick and fellow Swede: Jonas Brodin.

Coincidentally when meeting the media after being drafted, Olofsson said the player he is trying to model his game after is Brodin—after watching the Wild rookie help lead Team Sweden to Gold at the World Junior Championships in 2012. Olofsson spoke with no discernable accent, revealing his unique hockey background.

The 18-year-old has grown up both in Sweden and in the United States—stateside in San Jose and in Broomfield, Colo. The Olofsson family moved to the burgeoning hockey hotbed of San Jose for his dad’s job when Gustav was in second grade. Olofsson had already developed a passion for hockey because in Sweden it was either take to the ice or play soccer.

“In California, you have to be in San Jose or LA, that’s the two hot areas for hockey,” Olofsson said. “[The programs] were growing when I was there, the coaching is definitely getting better and the hockey interest was growing.”

In fifth grade, the Olofsson family moved back to Sweden and spent the next four years there playing the sport. They then moved back to Broomfield, Col., where they are living currently.

Olofsson has experienced vast differences in how Swedes and Americans play the game. For example, he said the Swedes focus more on individual skills, and less on situational drills. The blueliner has taken elements from both countries to develop into a well-rounded player.

“Swedes, because of the big sheet and how they grow up, are more fluid skaters,” Olofsson said. “Playing in both (countries) has been great. The skating is a big part of my game, but now that I’ve lived in the U.S. for a while I’ve become more physical and a bit of a hitter.”

The defenseman took his time with hockey by staying in Colorado to play his under-18 year, then spent all of last season in Green Bay with the Gamblers of the USHL.

“I went to the USHL when my body was ready physically,” Oloffson said. “(Green Bay) is a premier organization and the coaching staff is awesome. It was a good fit and that attracted me.”

Olofsson’s offensive numbers in junior hockey might not jump out at the casual observer—23 points (2-21=23) in 63 games—but the Wild brass was attracted to his skating, excellent positional play and feel for the game.

“He’s a poised player, he gets the puck and his lateral movement on the blue line and his form is excellent,” Brad Bombardir said after coaching Olofsson in Development Camp. “He can see the ice and we’re extremely excited to see the way he’s performed in camp.”

Olofsson’s roommate for the week at camp was one of the Wild’s top prospects, defenseman Mathew Dumba, who hopes to push for a spot in Minnesota during training camp.

“He’s given me a few good tips, learning and hanging around guys like that is good,” Olofsson said. “You compare yourself on what you need to work on when you see guys like that.”

For now, Olofsson is committed to play for Colorado College next season and his younger brother, Fredrik, plans to play for the Tigers as well.

College hockey will give the defenseman a few years to develop his all-around game, as CC plays its games on an Olympic-size ice sheet, which will help continue his skating and positioning. But it isn’t out of reach to imagine Olofsson playing alongside his role model, Jonas Brodin, on the Wild’s blue line one day.

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