Minnesota Wild fans have been shouting it loud and clear for what seems like decades: “Enough two-way centers, enough defenseman... GIVE US A PLAYER THAT CAN SCORE GOALS!” If that’s the ask, look no further than Stockholm’s Oskar Olausson for one of the Wild’s two first-round selections.
Just don’t expect him to do much else — at least, for now.
Scouts absolutely love the 6-foot-2, 181-pound forward’s skillset that allows him to introduce biscuit to basket. Most recently, playing for Sweden’s U20 junior national team, Olausson scored 14 goals and added 13 assists in 16 games, and on loan to the second-tier HockeyAllsvenskan league playing against fully-grown men, Olausson finished his 11-game stint with three goals and six points in his first taste of professional hockey.
But as strong as his offensive skill set is, there are some serious warts to his game — all of which have to do with what he does and how he reacts when he’s not trying to pick a goalie’s corner. But for an NHL squad that just needs a pure scorer and nothing else, Olausson might be a match for a team selecting in the bottom half of the first round. Would the Wild be such a team?
#14 by Elite Prospects
#20 by Scott Wheeler/The Athletic
#13 by Dobber Prospects
#48 by FCHockey
What Scouts Are Saying
We start with what actual NHL scouts told Corey Pronman of the Athletic anonymously in his NHL Draft Confidential piece:
“Those attributes he has are hard to find. When you see a guy his size who can skate and has his skill level with a track record of great scoring, you’re usually paying a premium pick for that. You could get that with flaws later in the first this year.”
“There’s so much player. He can fly, great skill, can score, big frame, good production. His compete isn’t good and he can be taken out of games when you hit him. At some point you have to take a shot, you won’t find much more talented players after the 20th pick.”
“The talent is undeniable. He can skate, he has skill, he can shoot it very well. Does he have hockey sense? Can his compete be more consistent? Those questions make me hesitant about using a first on him.”
Here’s what some public NHL talent evaluators say:
Olausson bounced around between multiple pro levels and Sweden’s junior level and mostly had success everywhere he went offensively. He has NHL-caliber speed and skill to go with good size, which can easily let you envision him generating clean zone entries with control. Inside the offensive zone, he’s more of a shooter than a passer. He can make good plays and does so with pace, but the main offensive threat he has is his shot and ability to finish from range. Olausson works fine off the puck, he’ll get back defensively but he’s not overly physical and can play on the perimeter too much. In a sentence, Olausson projects as a middle-six NHL winger due to his speed, skill and shot but may frustrate coaches too.
Finishing up my full report on 2021 prospect Oskar Olausson, but I gotta show this shift of him. Just watch #21 in black. He already scored 2 goals earlier in this game with his elite NHL shot & release. Watch this shift courtesy of @InStatHockey . Some high end skill on display. pic.twitter.com/PMwDrYGxES— ☘️ Sean Patrick Ryan ☘️ (@TheOilKnight) November 22, 2020
Olausson has the potential to be a top-six winger at the NHL level but is a bit of a risk. He needs to be more consistent as there are games where he is excellent and others where he seems to disappear a bit. However, he has a ton of skills and a good work ethic. If he can be developed properly, his ceiling is high. He is a bit of a long-term project though as his hockey IQ is a bit of a question mark at this stage.
Oskar Olausson (2021) grabs his first-career SHL goal. Zion Nybeck (CAR) gets his first point of the season.— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) November 24, 2020
Olausson is one to watch this season. He's a first-round prospect. pic.twitter.com/zxhEzM8qWv
I’ve seen Oskar Olausson a few times now, and he just never seems to do it for me. I definitely do see the tools that other scouts see. He has a nice frame to work with, he moves around the ice easily and can create some separation with his higher gears, and he’s a very potent shooter when he has the puck in a dangerous area. Scored a nice goal in this one by finding a loose puck, dusting it off and burying it. That being said, though, he’s just not a player who leaves a positive impact on a shift-by-shift basis. His awareness and hockey sense are an issue to me, as there are some shifts where he totally losses sight of his defensive check or skates himself into bad places offensively. There are shifts in both ends where he’ll make a nice read or a creative play, but they need to happen more often. There are many times when he skates to where the puck is, not where it’s going. Seems to lack spatial awareness, getting caught up in bad traffic, and needs to shoulder check more often. He also floats a bit and doesn’t show a whole lot of urgency or play with a high pace. Does very little to win pucks from opponents. Doesn’t use the power elements to his game nearly as much as he should, and can get pushed around. Could be more balanced on his feet. Puck handling is good at times, worse at others. I think the best case with Olausson is that you can develop him up enough to be a sheltered second-line winger and power play supporter, but there’s a lot of work that would need to be done and there’s a good risk that the job never quite gets completed.
Would He Fit In With The Wild?
Yeah, the Wild do (and likely will always need) someone that can score the puck. But in taking someone like Olausson, you’re asking whatever animal the “Wild” is to completely change its’ stripes. Historically, the Wild love players that are consistent, drive the offensive play, have a high hockey IQ and are defensively sound. Olausson ain’t that guy - at least not yet.
Can he be coached up? Sure. But what scares me the most about any of the scouting reports above is Pronman’s last four words: “... may frustrate coaches too.” I can see a scenario where Olausson continues to light up the Swedish leagues, but gets here and immediately finds himself in either Tim Army or Dean Evason’s doghouses, and Wild fans light up Twitter with animated gifs (probably provided by @HockeyWildernes) where Olausson overskates the puck, misfires on a pass or coughs up some other kind of turnover that leads to a game-winning goal for the opponent.
No doubt about it, Olausson has the raw skills to be an eventual difference maker in the NHL, especially if asked to provide middle-six or power-play scoring. But he won’t get there overnight, and he may not be the kind of project the Wild would be interested in nurturing along.
But at pick 25 especially, all the players have some warts. The question for the Wild front office and scouting department will be - is the upside there?
Could The Wild Get Him?
The rankings have Olausson placed in a pretty wide range (anywhere from 13th to 48th), and recent mock drafts seem to share in that inconsistency, with one simulation having Olausson going as high as 16 to the Montreal Canadians, while other first-round mocks don’t include him at all - meaning the Wild might be able to grab him with either of their first-round selections. Of course, that may change once the Stanley Cup Finals conclude, solidifying the draft order and a flood of additional mock drafts hit the interwebs.
But with the Wild’s picks locked in at 21 and 25 in the first round, if the Wild are looking at Olausson at all, you’d think it would have to be at the latter selection. Waiting until the second round at No. 53 overall might be a little too late, as a player with Olausson’s offensive skills likely won’t make it past the first 10 picks of the second round.
A Minnesota Relation
If you’re trying to find a player that would fit the mold of Olausson’s scouting report — talented skater/shooter, but struggles with mistakes, inconsistency and driving play at times, look no further than the 2021 iteration of Kevin Fiala. Fiala found himself in Evason’s doghouse at times last season due to sloppy play and turnovers, but no one can deny that the dude’s got skating, shooting and stickhandling talent to burn.
Olausson too has got the sweet moves and beauty of a shot, but has yet to put it all together on a night-in, night-out basis. But if Fiala can get there with the Wild (as he’s shown that he can), why not a player like Olausson?
2021 NHL Draft Board
- Owen Power — D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Matthew Beniers — C, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Brandt Clarke — D, HC Nove Zamky (Slovenia)
- Luke Hughes — D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Dylan Guenther — LW/RW, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
- Simon Edvinsson — D, Frolunda (SHL)
- William Eklund — C/LW, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
- Kent Johnson — C, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Mason McTavish — C/W, Peterborough Petes/EHC Olten (OHL/Swiss)
- Carson Lambos — D, Winnipeg Ice (WHL)
- Aatu Raty — C, Kärpät (Liiga)
- Chaz Lucius — C, USNTDP Juniors (USHL), U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)
- Cole Sillinger — C, Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)
- Sasha Pastujov — LW, U.S. National U18 team (USDP)
- Jesper Wallstedt — G, Luleå HF (SHL)
- Fabian Lysell — RW, Luleå HF (SHL)
- Matthew Coronato — LW, Chicago Steel (USHL)
- Oskar Olausson — F, HV71 (HockeyAllsvenskan/Swedish)