The Hurricanes’ season is over, and while it may not have been the outcome that we were all hoping for, at least we don’t have to get excited about the 13th overall pick. The Hurricanes own the 27th pick in the draft but will pick the 26th player since Arizona’s first round pick was forfeited due to NHL sanctions. This may not be the best draft, and you could even argue that it’s one of the weakest classes in the past decade. These are the drafts that I love, however, because this is where scouts earn their money. It’s easy to find players in a deep class like the 2015 and 2019 drafts, for instance, but it takes a good scout to find the gems in a draft as weak as the 2012 draft.
The first prospect that we’ll be talking about is HV71 winger Oskar Olausson. I will be breaking up each profile into three sections: paper stats, on-ice performance and scouting, and a summary of the player and his ceiling. Since I will be watching multiple games and other clips of these players, my opinions could change over time. The summary will include my final analysis of the player, as well as if I could see him as a fit in this organization.
Olausson is a 6-foot-2, 181pound winger that split this past season between three teams in Sweden. He had 27 points in 16 games with HV71’s U20 team, four points in 16 games with HV71 in the SHL and six points in 11 games with Sodertalje SK in Sweden’s second tier HockeyAllsvenskan. Across all of these games, Olausson finished with 20 goals and 37 points. His production in HockeyAllsvenskan is encouraging, as he’s over half a point per game in a very competitive league, albeit a small sample size. At this age, first-round caliber prospects should be dominating a U20 league, and I saw flashes of solid play with HV71 in the SHL. Olausson’s stats and measurables stand out as a player that many teams will covet in the upcoming draft, so let’s take a look at his game.
From game against Tingsryd AIF in HockeyAllsvenskan
What stands out immediately is Olausson’s stickhandling. He’s clever with the puck and is capable of dancing through defenses with his stickhandling and strong stride. He can accelerate to top speed quicker than his competition, allowing for the potential for a dangerous forecheck presence.
What I’ve noticed early on in this game is that Olausson seems content with letting the play come to him. He isn’t as aggressive on the puck as a player of his size should be, which is interesting. There were a few instances where Olausson was standing around or looking flat footed in both ends, which can be a little frustrating. Olausson also left the defensive zone before his teammates controlled possession, causing for the puck to stay in the defensive zone on multiple occasions. Utilizing his teammates and helping the play develop instead of waiting for the puck to come to him could take his game to another level.
He already has the speed and stickhandling to make an impact in the offensive zone. With that being said, there’s no doubt in my mind that his hockey sense is above average. He knows exactly where to position himself in the offensive zone in order to receive a pass. Sodertalje implements an unusual power play strategy that utilizes Olausson’s speed. He starts as the third point man and skates in on the faceoff to steal the puck from the opponent. He then skates behind the net and attempts a pass. The speed, stickhandling ability and ability to steal the puck makes the play work and is an example of just how dangerous Olausson can be even when he isn’t scoring. Olausson’s first shot in this game was a goal. His release is lightning fast and it’s clear that he can do a lot of damage with a shot from the left circle.
Positives from this game include Olausson’s skating, shot, stickhandling and hockey sense. I wasn’t thrilled with his play with the puck on his stick. He’s a good stickhandler, but I feel that he doesn’t know what to do with the puck on occasion and can be prone to turnovers. From looking at various clips and highlights, it’s clear that Olausson is both a transition and precision scorer. He has a deadly wrist shot and is lethal on the power play, but that’s not the only way he can score. His speed makes him dangerous on the rush and he can make a goalie miss with a quick wrist shot.
Olausson has the potential to become a 30-goal, 50+ point player at the NHL level. I can see why scouts have him ranked as high as 13th overall in this draft class. There are few better than Olausson at scoring goals in this draft class, and that’s a hot commodity in the NHL. On average, it seems that Olausson is ranked as the 21st overall prospect in this draft class. There’s a possibility that he could fall to Carolina in the draft. Is he a fit for the system? I think so. Olausson plays a quick, skilled game that could match up well with the likes of Martin Necas and Sebastian Aho, to name a few. The Hurricanes have a handful of goal scorers on their current roster, but Olausson could be the pure goal scorer that they’ve been missing in their middle six.
Given everything I was able to learn about Olausson’s game, I have my reservations with picking him. Again, he’s a fantastic goal scorer with great skating ability and stickhandling skills. It’s what Olausson lacks in his game that makes me wary of him as a player. His skating is miles ahead of his puck carrying skills, so he tends to lose control and turn the puck over whenever he’s the one initiating a breakout. That’s something that can be improved upon, but the turnovers do cause a bit of concern. The other concern I have is that Olausson doesn’t drive play as much as I’d like a first round pick to. He’s very skilled individually, but I don’t see him utilizing his teammates as much as he could. That said, I feel like Olausson could improve by adding some weight and working on his passing. He’s fantastic in transition when he isn’t turning the puck over, and if he can limit those turnovers or prevent them from happening, you’re looking at one dangerous player.
Judging from his potential, I’d consider picking Olausson if he is available when the Hurricanes make their selection. The potential in Olausson’s game is too good to pass up on, especially if the Hurricanes can add a goal scorer of his caliber. It will take time to develop Olausson, and you’re looking at a minimum of three years before he is a full-time NHL player, but the wait will be worth it. After all, who wouldn’t want a potential 30-goal scorer on their hands?