Buffalo, New York is just a six-hour jaunt from Easthampton, Massachusetts but it must’ve felt like worlds apart for 2013 NHL Draft eligible Ross Olsson.
A standout at Williston Prep School last season, Olsson was invited to participate in the All-American Prospects Game in Buffalo, showcasing the top-40 US-born prospects for June’s selection process in New Jersey.
According to the Lincoln Stars rookie, it was a great way to kick off his draft journey.
“Playing in the All-American Prospects Game was an honour,” Olsson said. “Even though it was only a two-day event and only one game, the experience that I had there was phenomenal.
“Meeting all the different kids and just knowing that people see you as one of the top 40 Americans in this year’s draft was awesome.”
Though Olsson was held pointless and recorded a minus-4 rating, the six-foot-four winger left the game with something more valuable – some words of wisdom from a talent evaluator to Olsson as he sets his sights on the NHL Draft.
“After the game I talked to Dan (Marr) from Central Scouting and he told me that I need to keep things simple and not to rush the game,” the 17-year-old said.
But even with scouts watching his every shift and giving helpful tidbits to Olsson along the way, the North Ballerica, MA product insists he doesn’t feel all that different playing in his draft year.
“There is always that thought in the back of your head that there may be scouts up in the stands but I always attempt not to let that affect my play,” Olsson said. “It doesn’t feel that much different playing in my draft year than any other previous years. I always put pressure on myself to perform to the best of my ability and more.”
And that attitude may have the thought of heading to New Jersey in June hitting a little closer to home for Olsson.
You’ve gone through the USHL Entry Draft. How do you expect your NHL experience will compare?
The USHL draft was a successful one as I was chosen by a team that I wanted to go to and excited to start the journey. The NHL and USHL draft could be similar in some ways as in both I am just staring at the computer screen as I did for the USHL and just kept refreshing the screen. For the NHL I will hopefully be in attendance in New Jersey, which is just a short ride down with the family and friends.
How has the adjustment been to the USHL?
The adjustment to the USHL from Williston prep school was a huge jump but just getting games under my belt and more experience it is starting to feel that I am getting the hang of the speed of the game. It seems to be better with the up-tempo practices and speed ladders that we do after practice.
What made you decide on Northeastern University and was there any consideration in playing Major Junior?
The reason I chose Northeastern over the other colleges that I had visited was the new coaching staff in Madigan, Keefe, and Foley. When they took me around campus I just knew it was the place that I wanted to be for college. The campus was a good size and in the city. Also the competitive Hockey East helped a lot to, along with the opportunity to play in the Beanpot, which is the dream for many New England kids when they are growing up. I never looked much into the Major Junior route because my parents and I always wanted the education and hockey as a package.
You’ve obviously got impressive size. What else about your game do you feel impresses scouts?
Other than my size I feel like my shot is another aspect of my game that sticks out to scouts. I still need to get a quicker release but that will come with practicing at it day after day.
What is it about your game you need to round out?
I still need to become a better skater with a quicker first few steps. I’ve been working with Eddie Hill for the past few summers and even though my skating has gotten better, it is still a weakness in my game.