Gustav Olofsson said he watched Minnesota Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin at the Under-20 World Championships last year and came away with an appreciation for Brodin’s smooth skating and his fluidity on the ice.
Olofsson didn’t tell anyone, but he felt there were similarities in his game and that Brodin was someone he could pattern himself after while playing for the Green Bay Gamblers in the United States Hockey League.
Fittingly, Olofsson’s shot at the NHL might come in a similar way to Brodin’s, too, after Minnesota made Olofsson its first pick of Sunday’s draft, taking the big defenseman in the second round with the No. 46 overall selection.
“(The) guy that’s fitting now is Jonas Brodin, the way he skates and the way he moves the puck,” Olofsson told reporters after he was drafted when asked for an NHL comparison to his game.
But Olofsson never told the Wild who his role model was before the draft.
“I was surprised,” Olofsson said. “It’s always been in my head but something I hadn’t said.”
Olofsson, 18, is Swedish but said he’s split his life growing up between Sweden and San Jose, Calif. He’s lived in Colorado the past four years and is committed to play next season at Colorado College.
A left-handed shooter, defenseman Olofsson had two goals and 21 assists with 59 penalty minutes in 63 games for Green Bay last season.
“Gustav is a big mobile defenseman that really jumped up our draft rankings.” Minnesota assistant general manager Brent Flahr said after the second round. “He’s an intelligent player with quality natural instincts for the game. We feel like his game will continue to improve as he gets stronger and gains experience.”
The wait was long, with Minnesota going without a first-round pick for the first time in team history, but the Wild nabbed the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Olofsson, who was ranked No. 51 overall among North American skaters in the final draft rankings by the NHL’s Central Scouting Service.
“(I’m a) two-way defenseman with strong-skating ability and good hockey sense; a guy that can contribute offensively and defensively,” Oloffson said in describing himself.
The No. 46 pick was Minnesota’s first in the draft after trading their first-round selection to the Buffalo Sabres at the trade deadline last season to acquire veteran forward Jason Pominville. Buffalo selected Russian defenseman Nikita Zadorov with the No. 16 pick it received from Minnesota.