After helping Timra IK earn promotion from Allsvenskan to the Swedish Hockey League for next season, Jacob Olofsson is looking forward to playing in the top tier of Swedish hockey. His play this season will see him selected within the first two rounds of the NHL draft this week in Dallas.
The six-foot-one, 192-pound forward is ranked 34th by ISS Hockey for the draft while NHL Central Scouting has Olofsson as the ninth best international skater available. Many expect him to be drafted in the second round tomorrow.
The native of Pitea, Sweden is described as a tall, skinny centre with high-level hockey sense that has a long stride and protects the puck well. He’s not overly flashy with the puck on his stick, but is strong on the puck, and can make plays happen. Olofsson is looking to become just the fourth player drafted from his hometown joining Mattias Ohlund, Mikael Renberg and Tomas Holmstrom.
“He’s a big, power forward-type of guy,” said ISS Hockey scouting director Dennis MacInnis. “He’s a two-way centre, plays a good 200-foot game. Very good hockey IQ, vision. He’s a smart guy.
“He’s like most of these young kids; he has the tendency to go missing from time to time. Needs to develop better consistency through his game. We project him as a third-line centre with some offensive upside.”
Olofsson, who tries to model his game after Calgary’s Mikael Backlund, was fifth in team scoring this season with 10 goals and 11 assists in 43 regular season games. He added four points in 10 playoff games.
“Jacob is a guy that does not say so much in the locker room. From the years in the junior team, he always was first at the ice and last to leave the ice,” said Johan Thelin, Timra’s assistant coach. “Always good focus at the off-ice practises. On the ice, he always trying to win every battle. He handles the stick very well.
“He needs to be better to handle the pass from the d-man. When he skates into the middle of the neutral zone, he loses some pucks there.”
In the SHL qualifier, Olofsson helped Timra erase a 3-1 series deficit against Karlskrona earning promotion to the top division for the 2018/19 season.
“Of course that’s a big step, being down 3-1 in the series also and taking three straight wins and being a strong group and everything that’s the part that grew inside me and something I want to be a part of again, being part of a strong team,” Olofsson said.
“Us having a chance to come up in the SHL - that was something we considered an honour and we did everything we could.”
Having played parts of two seasons in Allsvenskan with Timra, Olofsson believes the league is closing the gap on the SHL.
“I think it’s a good league, really good players,” he said. “I mean (Jonathan) Dahlen was there, being of course one of the best players, but he’s a top player and can be that in the SHL too so it’s a great league.”
Internationally Olofsson contributed two goals and three assists in nine games helping Sweden win bronze at last spring’s U18 World Championship.
“Not the performance I wanted, of course. But it’s a great time being there and winning the bronze also,” Olofsson said. “It was a better placement than last year, but not the performance that we had hoped for.”
Outside of hockey Olofsson also played floorball and football growing up.
The NHL and SHL won’t be the only options Olofsson has next season, ISS Hockey has Olofsson ranked 21st on its list of the top 60 players available for the upcoming CHL Import Draft.
Regardless of where Olofson plays next season, he has one year remaining on his deal with Timra, he knows where he needs to improve to one day play in the NHL.
“My explosiveness and my overall strength, but mostly my explosiveness. I need to be a little bit quicker,” he said. “I want to be big part of every game and having a reliable and taking care of both offensively and defensively and being an important player on the team.”