Welcome to SBNation NHL’s Mock Draft!
This is my third year running the draft table for On The Forecheck and by far the most unpredictable. As the first round progressed ahead of our pick, there were some curious choices (Ceulemans, Coronato, and Stankoven) that left me feeling flexible. With several talented forwards still on the board, I made an attempt to trade back in the first round and see if I could acquire another pick. Unfortunately, there were no takers, so...
In my final ranking for the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, Olausson comes in at 11th overall. Here’s what I noted:
“Good shooter from distance and doesn’t rely too much on just his wrist shot...Navigates net-front real estate well and has a nice touch of skill with the puck...Crossover steps slow down his acceleration but can be fixed...receives passes well and can move pucks into shooting or passing positions quickly and deceptively...”
Unlike previous draft classes, we aren’t dealing with a lot of all-star level talent, but rather with several potentially very good top-six forwards like Olausson. Here’s where other outlets have him ranked:
NHL Central Scouting: 13th, EU skaters
Bob McKenzie: 26th
Elite Prospects: 14th
Corey Pronman: 26th
Scott Wheeler: 20th
FC Hockey: 48th
Dobber Prospects: 30th
Smaht Scouting: 16th
As has been the case throughout the entirety of this draft year, evaluators are all over the board when it comes to a player like Olausson, but I would be shocked if he slips out of the first round later this month.
By The Numbers
Olausson bounced around a fair bit in this COVID-riddled season. He appeared in 16 games for HV71’s U20 team before the junior season was canceled, scoring nearly a goal per game and finishing second on the team with 27 points. He joined the men’s team for another 16 games in the SHL and added 11 more on loan to the HockeyAllsvenskan (Sweden’s second-tier league).
Olausson also joined Team Sweden for the World Junior Championship, going without a point in four games.
Among draft-eligible skaters in the J20 Nationell this season, Olausson was first in primary points-per-game (1.44) and first in even-strength primary points-per-game (0.75). In his limited SHL play—where he averaged just over nine minutes of ice time per night—he was second in both those categories behind William Eklund, a likely top-five pick.
Olausson is one of the best shooting talents in this draft and doesn’t discriminate in where he shoots from. Above is his shot map from J20 Nationell play this season. He scores from in tight and at a distance, and is willing to fire the puck from nearly anywhere.
On the man advantage, Olausson settles into his firing spot around the right face-off dot.
He’s adept at picking corners too. The visualization above demonstrates no clear tendency in shooting locations and an ability to recognize and exploit various goalies’ weaknesses.
When you watch Olausson at his best, his puck handling, offensive creativity, and scoring skill come off effortlessly. At times, he can look like he’s out for a casual skate because he’s so dominant at his highest gear.
You wouldn’t classify Olausson as a burner when it comes to his skating. His top speed probably grades out as a little above average, but he moves well in transition. In the clip above, Olausson (#21, blue) collects the puck and uses a good knee bend and heavy linear crossover steps to weave through the neutral zone. He oscillates the puck from out in front of his body to his side, deceiving the defender and giving him more flexibility. When he shakes the defender along the sidewall, you’ll notice his lack of an elite accelerating gear, but he’s able to find space, sell the other defenders on his shot, and deliver a nifty primary assist across the slot.
Defensively, Olausson can be a frustrating player at times. Above, he commits a lazy turnover and is a bit too reactive in chasing the puck up high to the point. There is a certain feature to his game where he prefers drawing opponents in and prolonging his decisions. On offense, it can be a dynamic tool. On defense, it can lead to annoying mistakes (but none that can’t be corrected).
Olausson has an excellent nose for the puck as he demonstrates off the face-off in the clip above, and his forechecking skills can be disruptive and demoralizing for other teams. Notice above how he’s able to catch the defender behind the net and then draw two defenders behind him as he looks for a passing option. His patience and challenges to defenders are a tempting part of his game, but one he’ll have less time to work with at higher levels.
Finally, the hallmark of Olausson’s game is his shooting talent. In the clip above, he (#31, blue) reads the crashing opponent perfectly in the neutral zone, then adjusts his edges and choke on his stick at his own blue line to respond. Olausson collects the puck in stride and uses a series of linear crossovers to get back up to speed perfectly corralling the puck the entire time. In one fluid motion, Olausson maintains his skating stride, pulls back on the puck, and snaps off a forceful, deceptive release before the defender can mitigate his chance for an excellent goal.
There are certainly flaws in Olausson’s game that will need rounding out, but he has the potential to grow into a robust scoring threat who can drive transition, frustrate other teams' defense pairs, and score 20+ goals per season. He’d certainly be a worthwhile addition to Nashville’s pipeline.