2020-21 Team: Malmö Redhawks, SHL
Date of Birth: Jan. 26, 2003
Place of Birth: Helsingborg, Sweden
Ht: 6-feet Wt: 198 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 23rd (among EU skaters)
- FC Hockey: 43rd
- TSN/McKenzie: 42nd
- Dobber Prospects: 66th
- Smaht Scouting: 48th
- Recruit Scouting: 25th
- The Hockey Writers (Baracchini): 46th
- The Hockey Writers (Zator): 40th
- The Hockey Writers (Forbes): 39th
Anton Olsson isn’t the type of player who makes a lot of noise on the scoresheet. That’s obvious from his statline with the Malmö Redhawks this past season – just four assists in 39 SHL games. Olsson’s niche is being a smart, poised defenseman whose exceptional intelligence for the game makes him a terrific player in all three zones.
Related: THW 2021 NHL Draft Guide
Often drawing comparisons to TJ Brodie and Calvin de Haan, Olsson plays the type of game that may not be so noticeable to fans, but can be infuriating to play against. He’s not a towering defenseman, at 6-feet and 198 pounds, but his knowledge of the game has marked him as a top European prospect in the 2021 draft class.
Olsson is efficient, but not flashy. He brought a high level of play to the SHL’s Redhawks as just a teenager playing among men. He also impressed in his age group at the IIHF Under-20 World Championships, where he helped Sweden to a bronze medal and was named one of Sweden’s top three players of the tournament.
Olsson has fantastic gap control when playing one-on-ones, and defends well along the boards in a way that makes it difficult for opposing forwards to drive to the net. He plays bigger than his size on paper, even when sharing the ice with older, more seasoned veterans.
The way he leads with his long stick can quickly take away space from oncoming attackers. He’s a great skater with long strides, which can quickly make him gain explosiveness when carrying the puck up ice. Defensively, his edgework and nimble feet lend to his impressive backward-skating speed as well.
Strangely, Olsson looks much more natural rushing the puck up ice than he does on the cycle in the offensive zone. While he thinks the game quickly in terms of positioning and how plays are developing, his processing speed drops off when the puck lands on his stick at the blue line.
He often defaults into making one-dimensional plays – by prematurely passing off or firing a quick wrister without traffic in front. If he does catch the puck in a dangerous scoring position, he has a good snap to his wrist shot that can catch goaltenders off guard.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Anton Olsson – NHL Draft Projection
The consensus on Olsson is that he’ll be drafted somewhere in the second round. He has excellent hockey fundamentals, which in theory, should make him respond well to development. It’s possible that because of his “safe” toolkit, he could be a late first-round pick.
“Olsson is a mobile defender, combining good speed and lateral agility to effectively close on puck carriers in the defensive zone. He is proficient in puck battles along the boards, using his feet and body positioning to free up contested pucks and protect them from opposing forecheckers before chipping them to a teammate. Olsson can play a tight gap in the neutral zone, leads with his stick when attacking, and has the skating ability to quickly get back into the play if he is beaten or caught out of position. His mobility also allows him to retrieve pucks from dangerous areas and skate himself out of trouble before finding a release valve.” – Nick Richard, Dobber Prospects
“Olsson’s wrist shot is decent. He has a quick release and it is accurate. His slap shot is decent but nothing to write home about. However, Olsson is more likely to sneak into the top of the circles to use his wrister than setting up for a slap shot anyway. His skating ability allows him pinch at the blue line and keep plays alive while still having the ability to get back defensively.” – Ben Kerr, Last Word on Sports
“Olsson has a fantastic transition game. This area is a stand-out ability for him. Not only is he extremely confident carrying the puck, but he also has some skill, and can deke past opponents at speed. The result is that he can carve through a neutral zone and make opposition players get on their heels.” – Alexander Appleyard, Smaht Scouting
- Hockey sense
- Defensive positioning
- Skating & footwork
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Pace of play
- Offensive creativity
Olsson could be a great support defenseman to fill out an NHL roster. He’s not your top pairing guy, but he can become an essential middle or bottom-pairing defenseman who can play those undervalued minutes. If he speeds up his decision-making and develops a little more offensive deception, he can really bring some value to an NHL blue line.
Risk – 2.5/5, Reward – 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 6/10, Defense – 7.5/10
In his earlier years, Olsson was part of a gold-medal winning team at the U15 TV-Puck tournament. This year, the Swedish defender captured a bronze medal at the U18 World Junior Championship while being named one of the top three players on his team.
Anton Olsson Statistics
Matt Cosman is a Sheridan College print journalism graduate from Oakville, Ontario. I’ve been with THW since 2019 covering the Carolina Hurricanes, one of my favorite childhood teams. When I’m not in my hockey bubble you can probably catch me jamming out on the piano or losing money at the poker tables.