|2011 - Dylan Olsen||28||0||1||1||-5||6||0||0||0||16|
When Hawks fans want to feel better, they probably start to concentrate on another wave of kids coming through the system starting to make noise either at lower levels or starting to crack the big club's roster. We start to dream of what they could become to reinforce the first wave that became "The Core". There's still a lot of miles to go before we know for sure, but it could be argued that none look a surer bet than Dylan Olsen. Strange what happens when a player gets at least a full season in the AHL. Don't you think, Nick Leddy?
The Good: Olsen provided the Hawks blue line with something they are clearly short of, and that's size and physicality. A big boy who's only going to get stronger after a summer with that nutcase strength coach the Hawks have, Olsen wasn't afraid to throw his weight around, at least when he was feeling confident. Olsen would flash a nasty streak that the Hawks also lack, and one that we hope grows from here, though not to a stupid, Roman Polak point. Already strong positionally, none of Olsen's problems, or at least few of them, stemmed from being in the wrong place. He also did it while playing on his offside, not something he had done a lot of in his young career. More encouragingly, though you had to look hard to see it because Olsen was generally afraid of crossing the red line, but on very few occasions he showed a quick release of a heavier than we thought shot. This is something I hope I see more of next season.
The Bad: Olsen's biggest problems were ones that all young d-men, especially those whose skating is going to need some work. Olsen had problems when faced with a heavy forecheck, as his puck skills in his own zone haven't fully developed yet. Passing could get wonky in a hurry. When he was pressured for long stretches, would tend to panic. However, all of these are things you feel will be solved with simply more experience and a dependable partner. Most of Olsen's best work came when paired with Duncan Keith when injuries ravaged the Hawks blue line. When he was moved to the third pairing, sometimes with Hjalmarsson, sometimes with O'Donnell, sometimes with Lepisto, things didn't look nearly as assured.
Contract: Two more years on his entry level deal at $870K
Stick Around Or Hit The Bricks: This is easy. Olsen is a piece that the Hawks are very excited about, and they should be. However, learning the lessons of past mistakes is vital here. Olsen needs a strong camp just to bolt down a third pairing spot next season. While more time in Rockford certainly couldn't hurt, if Olsen works hard this summer and can turn a head or two in September, the 5-6 role is his. But that is the very limit of where he should start. In an ideal world, Olsen kicks skulls around through December, earning more time and eventually a promotion to partner Nick Leddy to give the Hawks a second pairing they can count on for years to come. But Olsen shouldn't be just handed that. If he can improve his feet during the summer months, and maintain that nasty streak that makes his size a real weapon, the Hawks defense could be more solid 1-6 than we saw this season.
There's a lot to be harvested here, but the Hawks and Olsen must make sure they go about it the right way.