Drafted 46th overall, defenseman Gustav Olofsson poses for one of several draft day photographs as the newest member of the Minnesota Wild. Mandatory Credit: www.hockeysverige.se
Fresh from the 2014 Under-20 World Junior Hockey Championships, Colorado College freshman defenseman Gustav Olofsson is now focused on leading the Tigers to an NCAA national championship. His return to the team was in question for a while, however.
According to an article by The Gazette’s Joe Paisley dated January 10th, 2014, the Minnesota Wild encouraged their top selection in the 2013 NHL Draft to leave CC for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League upon conclusion of the tournament. Olofsson was a relatively unknown commodity outside of the Minnesota Wild, USHL and CC fanbases prior to the tournament, but five points in seven games and exceptional defensive play saw his NHL stock skyrocket.
“Olofsson really impressed me when they lined up to play the Russians,” said college TV analyst Dave Starman, the NHL Network’s color commentator for the tournament. “His pairing against (Russian leading scorer Mikhail) Grigorenko spoke volumes about what he was worth to Sweden.”
Fortunately for CC fans, Olofsson appears to be a Tiger through and through for the time being.
“That (the WHL) will always be there because they have my (major junior) rights,” said Olofsson. “This is where I want to be and that is why I am here.”
The reaction and relief surrounding his return speaks volumes as to how much his talent and character means to the club.
“…seeing Gustav decide to come back was a boost for team morale,” said CC assistant coach Joe Bonnett.
In 14 games with the Tigers, Olofsson has collected three goals and two assists for five points. Last season, the big 6’4″ 191-pound left-shot blue liner played 67 games with the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers, scoring two goals and 21 assists for 23 points in the process of being named to the league’s 2012-13 All-Rookie Team. Olofsson is also the first player in USHL history to be drafted by the Minnesota Wild with the team’s No. 1 pick.
The fact that the Wild actually encouraged Olofsson to leave the NCAA for the WHL shows just how highly the Minnesota brass thinks of this kid. It doesn’t mean that the team doesn’t want him to get his college degree–it means the team wants him either in St. Paul or Des Moines within the next season or two. If he had made the jump to the “W” this year, he would have been playing with fellow top Wild defensive prospect Mathew Dumba. In fact, there’s a good possibility they would have even been on the same defensive pairing. The schedule is tough, the competition fierce and the odds of a very deep playoff run almost guaranteed–there’s no question he would have benefitted from it.
At 19, Olofsson may not ever play a game of Canadian major junior hockey. However, with the way he’s playing, he may not play all four seasons of NCAA eligibility, either. Enjoy him while you can, Tigers fans–he’ll be manning the Wild blueline before you know it.
Topics: Gustav Olofsson