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Prospects Unlimited: Canadiens prospect Olofsson sees highs and lows in Sweden

Offensively gifted with a smooth stride, Olofsson is part of Montreal’s growing collection of young pivots and is honing his game back home.

Though he's still a teenager, center Jacob Olofsson has already seen the dizzying highs and brutal lows of the European relegation system. Two years ago, the Canadiens’ 2018 second-round pick was playing for Timra in Sweden’s Allsvenskan, the circuit just below the SHL. Led by San Jose prospect Jonathan Dahlen, Timra placed first in the league, then won promotion to the SHL in a qualification tournament. “The whole team was such good friends with everybody,” Olofsson said. “It was a special moment to do it with them, a moment to remember my whole life.”

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But the SHL was a rough ride for the Red Eagles, who finished dead last, then got relegated back to the Allsvenskan when they lost a seven-game series to Oskarshamn. “We weren’t the top team, so it was tough,” Olofsson said. “Unfortunately we fell out again, so it was a tough season.”

Instead of trying to pull Timra back up to the top rung this year, Olofsson switched over to Skelleftea, whose alumni include Adam Larsson and Viktor Arvidsson. “They like young players and have good training,” he said. “They’re driving to the top of the SHL, and I want to be a part of that.”

Offensively gifted with a smooth stride, Olofsson is part of Montreal’s growing collection of young pivots. As Olofsson continues to hone his game in Sweden, he wants to round out his skill set. “I want to get better around the boards and with my shooting,” he said. “With decision-making, be a little cooler with the puck and not stress out.”

Olofsson could also use some redemption at the world juniors. He went pointless in five games last year as Sweden struggled to score (the team getting ravaged by a flu bug didn’t help). Their tournament ended abruptly in the quarterfinal against Switzerland, and Olofsson doesn’t want to come up short again. “We have to be mentally prepared,” he said. “Maybe we felt it was going to be too easy, and the nerves got the best of us. Hopefully everybody knows what happened last year, and we play every shift like it’s our last.” – Ryan Kennedy

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