Olsen adds size and skill to Rockets
By surrendering Shane McColgan—the team's top scorer the last two seasons—in a trade with the Saskatoon Blades this spring, the Kelowna Rockets were expecting something reasonably substantial in return.
After watching new centre Ryan Olsen over the first two days of the club's training camp, general manager Bruce Hamilton is confident the move will pay dividends.
"The first thing is he's a bigger guy, he skates extremely well, and he's pretty skilled on top of it all," Hamilton said. "He's also a year younger (than McColgan), so we could have him here for a couple of years. It's early, but he's looked excellent in camp so far."
Along with a pair of bantam draft choices, the Rockets acquired the 6-foot-2.5, 190-pound Tsawwassen native from the Blades in May for McColgan and fellow forward Jessey Astles.
While initially surprised with being dealt to Kelowna, it wasn't long before Olsen embraced the idea of wearing Rockets colours
"It was a little bit of a shock at first, but then I thought it's close to home and I know the Rockets are a great organization," said Olsen, 18. "Now that I'm here, you know I'm really looking forward to getting going as a Rocket. I know they have a great young team here and I feel like I can really add a lot to that. I feel like l'm fitting in already and the guys have made me feel welcome."
Olsen, who had 15 goals and 32 points with the Blades in 2011-12, will give the Rockets some size up the middle, an element the club has been lacking the last couple of seasons.
A sixth-round draft pick of the NHL's Winnipeg Jets, he will also be asked to provide some offense on a Rockets team that will likely have to employ a scoring-by-committee approach in 2012-13.
"We're going to need a bunch of 20-goal scorers, maybe some with 25, and he's a guy we're going to count on a lot this year," Hamilton said. "I'm looking forward to seeing him once we get a month into the season, let him get his feet underneath him, and seeing what he can do."
For Olsen's part, he's never felt better prepared for the start of a new season and is ready to make a significant impact with his new team.
"My confidence is at an all-time high and I like where my game is at," said Olsen, who played two seasons in Saskatoon. "I'm in the best shape of my life right now, and I feel like I can hopefully jump right into the first line centreman role that want to be on this team."
While the configuration of the team's lines will be a work in progress in the pre-season, head coach Ryan Huska said he'll look at possibly teaming Olsen up with two other skilled forwards, such as Colton Sissons and Zach Franko.
Rocket Shots…Training camp continues Thursday for the Rockets at Prospera Place with on-ice sessions at 9 and 10:45 a.m., and 5 p.m…Kelowna will play two exhibition games this weekend against the Vancouver Giants: Friday in Ladner, and Saturday, 7 p.m. at Prospera Place.