By Rheanne Marcoux - Web Content Coordinator, jets.nhl.com
Photo: Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze
It was a big year for Jets’ prospect Ryan Olsen. After being drafted 160th overall by the Winnipeg Jets, Olsen started the 2012-13 season with a new team and recorded a career high in points. He made the move from the Saskatoon Blades to the Kelowna Rockets look easy, but the transition was a big adjustment for the 19 year-old centre.
“The hardest part for me was just to fit in,” explained the Delta, British-Columbia, native. “I’m kind of a shy guy and coming into a new team where no one really knows you and where you want to come in, be a leader, and have an impact on the team is tough.”
Winnipeg Jets Coordinator of Player Development, Jimmy Roy, said the move was ultimately very beneficial for Olsen, who adapted well and made the best of the change. “It helps a player deal with different personalities, different players, different coaches, and different expectations,” said Roy, who followed Olsen’s progress this year. “It helps them understand their role. Maybe you’re role on one team is going to be different than the team you’re coming to, so there’s role acceptance.”
The 6’1” centreman quickly understood what was expected of him and gained the respect of his teammates and coaches as he accumulated 56 points (32 goals and 24 assists) over 69 games, and a plus/minus of plus-17. It was a breakout season for Olsen, just the kind of results he had set out to achieve. The Rockets were eliminated by the Kamloops Blazers in the second round of the WHL playoffs, but in those 11 games, Olsen recorded six points (1 goal, 5 assists) and 14 PIMs.
“The year before I didn’t have the best season, but I looked at all my totals in points and goals this year and I feel I played really well. I think I’m an elite player in the league and with my skill level, size, and speed I should be able to put up a lot of points,” admitted the young player.
Roy agrees with Olsen. “He had a really good season in Kelowna. He became a leader and was a big part of their team there,” he said. “I think one thing that we’ve talked about with him is his consistency – how to play at the top of his game every single day. He’s a good character kid, I think he works hard and has a great work ethic.”
Olsen’s confidence and determination grew after the 2012 NHL Draft when he slipped into a Winnipeg Jets jersey for the very first time. His goal has since been to wear that uniform again, but this time in a game.
“Once I got drafted I knew all the work started now. I trained a lot in the off-season and worked hard and it showed on the ice. My goal now is to sign with the Jets.”
The season is barely over but Olsen has already set new goals in pursuit of his dream to play for the Jets.
“I have a couple new goals now,” said Olsen. “I want to get as strong and as quick as I can. I’m getting older now so the weights are getting heavier which means I have to push myself a lot harder to get to that next level.”
The 187-pound forward never even considered taking a few weeks off before coming to Winnipeg for his first NHL Player Development Camp. He’s already training harder than ever before to prepare himself.
“I’m so excited, it’s going to be amazing. I haven’t been there before and I can’t wait to throw on the Jets helmet! It’s going to be a special opportunity,” said Olsen, the anticipation obvious in his voice. “I’ve talked to some guys that have been there before. They’ve told me what it’s like, how hard it is, but also how fun it is. So I have some expectations and I know I have to come there in top shape and ready to work.”
In the meantime, Olsen has been spending his time training and glued to the TV watching Stanley Cup playoffs. The thought of one day being there himself is what keeps him motivated.
“The Stanley Cup playoffs are on right now and I’ve been watching players and their families in the stands and it makes me want to be there really bad. That’s the dream one day, to be there with my family and friends.”