Avalanche first-round pick Oskar Olausson called up for NHL debut: 'I think he's got a high ceiling'

Nov. 23—DENVER — The highly anticipated NHL debut of Avalanche first-round pick Oskar Olausson has arrived.

Olausson, 20, received the news ahead of Wednesday night's home game against the Canucks. The Swedish forward with a wicked shot couldn't believe it.

"It felt like a dream," Olausson said pregame from his Avalanche dressing room stall. "But it's awesome. I'm excited."

Olausson — Colorado's No. 28 overall selection in the 2021 NHL draft — is joining the pro club with several Avalanche forwards still on the mend from injuries. But his debut doesn't happen without big strides in the American Hockey League. Olausson put up eight points (four goals) over 16 games this season with the Eagles after an impressive Avalanche rookie camp.

Colorado slotted Olausson on the team's second line Wednesday beside center Evan Rodrigues and winger Alex Newhook, dropping Martin Kaut to the fourth line. It means Olausson will get meaningful minutes, by design, in his first NHL action. The Avs received a promising report from their AHL affiliate.

"They said (Olausson) had some growth in his game on the defensive side of the puck and on the offensive side of the puck he's been a pretty consistent contributor for them," coach Jared Bednar said. "(We're) looking to try and put a guy into a spot on our second line that might be able to help us produce a little bit. I think it's a good opportunity for a guy like him. ... It's just putting him in a spot where he might be able to play with like-minded players and showcase his skill set. It's not ideal to come up and play five minutes a night.

"You want to put him into a position to succeed and see how he handles it."

Olausson admitted to some nerves before the game. But he's certainly confident. Asked to describe his strengths to reporters, Olausson said with improving English: "A good skater with good offensive weapons. A good shot." He finished the thought: "I'm going to use it," Olausson said.

But that's not all. Olausson said that Eagles coach Greg Cronin "helped me a lot with the details" to improve his backchecking and defensive spacing — gritty parts of the game. Avalanche depth forward Jayson Megna witnessed those skills firsthand as AHL teammates this season.

"Right away you notice that the kid can shoot the puck, and he's confident in those tight areas, which a lot of guys take time to find that poise," Megna said. "But I noticed that right away. But you guys saw it in training camp. You find him in a good spot in the offensive zone, he gets a shot off, it's a good chance of scoring in the back of the net."

Avalanche second liners Newhook and Rodrigues have combined for 15 points (10 goals) this season as a key piece of the Avs strong November play. Colorado is hopeful that Olausson will add another dynamic scoring threat, not only this season, but for years to come.