Minnesota Wild: 2018-19 Season Preview of Gustav Olofsson

ST. PAUL, MN - FEBRUARY 10: Gustav Olofsson #23 of the Minnesota Wild skates against the Chicago Blackhawks during the game at the Xcel Energy Center on February 10, 2018 in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - FEBRUARY 10: Gustav Olofsson #23 of the Minnesota Wild skates against the Chicago Blackhawks during the game at the Xcel Energy Center on February 10, 2018 in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Gustav Olofsson clearly appears to be the odd man out among the Minnesota Wild defense this season. This could be the last chance for #23 to solidify a spot in Minnesota, and I doubt he’s going to go down easy.

We are officially entering the 5th, and potentially final, season for Gustav Olofsson as a defensive prospect with the Minnesota Wild. As a highly projected second round draft pick in 2013 Olofsson has had high expectations on him from the start and has struggled to stay healthy long enough to convert it into NHL consistency.


Olofsson was taken 46th overall in the NHL Entry Draft coming off a stellar season in the USHL for the Green Bay Gamblers (23 points in 63 games, +11 rating) which resulted in him playing in the NHL/AHL top prospects game that year and catching the eyes of Minnesota’s scouts.

Following the draft, Olofsson spent one season at Colorado College before signing an entry level deal with the Minnesota Wild and making the jump to the AHL. He played 8 games in Iowa to finish that year, and scored a goal in his AHL debut.

His professional career got off to a terrible start in his first season at Iowa, as he injured his shoulder in the first game of the season (his third such shoulder injury of his young career), which required surgery and caused him to miss the entire year of hockey

Entering training camp the following year, Olofsson impressed all of the coaching staff and had a real chance to make the Minnesota Wild roster as a 20 year old. He got a brief taste of regular season action in November 2015, but spent the rest of the season in Iowa again before requiring another shoulder surgery in February. His fourth major shoulder injury of his career.

“The only reason we’re not talking about him having a chance to make our team based on the training camp that he’s had so far is because he hasn’t played hockey,” [former] coach Mike Yeo during 2015 Minnesota Wild training camp

Olofsson rehabbed that injury quickly, and was ready for training camp in fall 2016. Again impressive in camp, Olofsson sprained his MCL in a preseason game which cost him an opportunity to secure an NHL spot and was left in Iowa to start the year.

He impressed in Iowa through the 2016-17 season, recording 24 points in 59 games and earning 13 games at the NHL level with Minnesota where he managed 3 points at the NHL Level. His season was again cut short, though, with an undisclosed upper body injury suffered in March while with Minnesota.

2017-18 was truly meant to be the season of Gustav Olofsson. He made the Minnesota Wild roster out of camp following a season mostly injury free, beating out Kyle Quincey for the 6th defense spot. The return of Nate Prosser in November made for a more crowded team and Olofsson spent the rest of the year battling with Mike Reilly and Ryan Murphy for ice time.

In March, he was again struck by the injury bug as he lost time to a concussion at the worst time. With Jared Spurgeon and Ryan Suter both out with injury, Olofsson went down as well which cost him the opportunity to earn more playing time and more responsibility.

Season Outlook

Olofsson has only managed 56 games over 4 full seasons spent as a Minnesota Wild prospect, mostly due to injury, which does not bode well for his chances to make the lineup for 2018-19. He will have to clear waivers to be assigned back to Iowa, which could spell the end of his time in Minnesota.

His play last season was quickly overshadowed by the late season heroics of Nick Seeler and Carson Soucy, and his durability problems which have plagued him for his entire career make it impossible to truly rely on him for any extended period.

I don’t doubt that he will do everything in his power during camp and preseason to prove he still belongs on the NHL club. He has the skills to be successful when healthy, but that is the kicker. Staying healthy in the NHL is an important part of being successful, and until he proves otherwise he will not succeed in the pros.

It’s always disappointing when a highly touted prospect fizzles out early, but I would hazard a prediction that we are looking at that happening to Gustav Olofsson. The North American game appears to be too physical for the undersized Swede to withstand.

There is always a chance that he could clear waivers during preseason, and spend the season down in Iowa again, looking to finally find a level of consistency to help him take that next step. His chances of securing a spot on the crowded Minnesota Wild blue-line are extremely slim, so he may be better served in a trade package to bring back some fresh blood to the prospect pool.

I’m going to keep it short this time, as his season preview is simply put as a year in the AHL. Long term, I think he will be done with Minnesota following this final year of his contract. He may look to land another NHL contract in free agency, but I would say it’s more likely he returns to Sweden where the European style fits his game a lot better.

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It’s sad to see him go, but the emergence of Seeler, Soucy, and Louis Belpedio along with the addition of veterans Matt Bartkowski and Greg Pateryn has pushed the under-producing Olofsson to the minors and eventually out the door. All the best in your future, Gustav Olofsson.