The Leafs’ former third round pick in 2010, Sondre Olden, has been drafted 31st overall by the Erie Otters (pick acquired from the Plymouth Whalers)Â in the CHL Import Draft. The Olso, Norway native is a lanky 6’4″, 180-pound center who made three appearances for SEL team Modo as an 18-year-old but mostly played last season with Modo Junior (Modo J20). If he reports to Erie he’ll be playing with Greg McKegg which undoubtedly makes Leafs fans very happy. Chemistry is best built early on.
“He struggles winning puck battles mostly because he gets out muscled and outworked, and needs to realize that the only way to the NHL is by filling out and getting stronger. That said, the raw talent and frame didnâ€™t go anywhere and is still visible in some of the moves he makes.”
It’s hard to say where Olden might have gone in the draft order if he had more than one year of junior eligibility remaining; regardless, it’s always good to get these European prospects over for some development at the junior level on North American ice, and it seems particularly apt for Olden given the areas of his game most in need of work. He must gain strength and better embrace the physical and two way elements of the game. Mislav tells me Olden seemed pushed to compete against men for Modo earlier than his time despite apparently lacking the necessary upper body strength, and it may have set him back confidence-wise. Given time to develop at his own pace, gain strength and develop a better understanding of a two-way, physical game, Olden has the raw tools – the frame, the reach, the hockey sense, the soft hands – to suggest the Leafs may have something in their 79th overall pick from 2010. He’s a project to keep an eye on.