Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Open letter to Gustav Olofsson

First off, congratulations for being drafted #46 overall by the Minnesota Wild!

I'm sure that it was a pretty special experience:

I'm sure that your hockey journey has been a pretty fun ride to this point - from your native Sweden, as well as Northern California & Colorado.  As a guy who grew up in USHL country, I'm sure that your season in Green Bay was great for your development, and the Wild appear to feel the same way.

Folks in Colorado Springs are pretty excited about the prospect of seeing you suit up for Colorado College this season, and I can't blame 'em.  Defenseman like yourself with good size & a knack for moving the puck well are really valuable to a hockey team.

Being able to play the game at a high level coupled with a quality education is a great position to be in, which is what playing for the Tigers represents.  Earning a 4 year college degree is a great move, especially with life after hockey.  Of course, the Wild most likely have you penciled in to go pro around 2 years from now - being a high draft pick and all.

Some would make the argument that if a player like yourself is probably going pro in 2 years, that you would be better off playing in a pro-style league, like major junior.  Playing in the WHL means a 72 game regular season, as well as 4 rounds of 7 game series for their playoff format.  William Wrenn, also a defenseman & 2nd round pick, played 1 1/2 seasons for Denver University, as well as 1 1/2 seasons in Portland.  Ultimately he played more playoff games in the WHL than total games in his NCAA career.  That workload did wonders for his development.

Players in the WHL are required to take classes in addition to their game schedule, so they have a head start if they choose to pursue a degree later.  They also have a year of school paid for every year played, although signing a pro contract voids this benefit.

My advice to you would be to reach out to some of your new Wild family.  Nino Niederreiter would be a good one to ask about playing in Portland, how Coach Johnston runs his bench, what a long playoff run is like.  Jared Spurgeon would be a good guy to touch base with, as a D man who played in the US Division of the 'dub.  I've got to guess that you know Dominic Turgeon from both being Denver kids - ask him some questions next time you see him around town.

There are a lot of Winterhawks fans who have been excited about the idea of your brother Fredrik playing in Portland - when he visited our barn it looked like a nice fit.  For a guy who likes to play an up-tempo style, there's not a better place to play than Portland:  they love to push the pace.  A guy who makes a good first pass out of his own zone is going to rack up assists on a team like the 'Hawks.  There are tons of quality forwards to go up against in this league, which can only help you grow.

Portland is bringing back 5 of their top 6 forwards, including the top two scorers in the league.  This is a team defending a championship, and we expect them to do some damage again in the playoffs this year. They just need you to get 'em the puck.

A player like yourself is in a great position, and there is no wrong answer between playing in the NCAA and the WHL.  You would be wise to look very closely at both options, and things will work out well in the end.


Chad Balcom

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