Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Wild signs prospect Gustav Olofsson

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild news Updated: March 24, 2014 - 4:06 PM

The Wild has signed one of its top prospects to an entry-level contract.

A few weeks after signing 2013 third-round pick Kurtis Gabriel, the Wild has signed 2013 second-round pick Gustav Olofsson. Both contracts begin next year. Olofsson will sign an amateur tryout and begin with the Iowa Wild next week.

Technically, Olofsson's junior rights are owned by Portland, so the Wild could conceivably assign him there next year. But the plan now is for him to start his pro career next season in Iowa. At 19, he'll be one of the youngest players in the AHL.

Olofsson, who just completed his freshman year at Colorado College, is the Wild's No. 2-rated prospect in the most recent Hockey News Future Watch. Fellow defenseman Matt Dumba, its 2012 first-round pick, is No. 1. Here is a feature I wrote on Olofsson in December.

"We're excited to get Gus under contract," assistant GM Brent Flahr said via text message. "His performance this year at the World Junior Championships and at Colorado College exceeded our expectations and we're confident that he's ready for the next challenge in his young career. His skill set really excites us going forward. We're looking forward to see him continue his development at the pro level."

Olofsson, 19, hails from Sweden but spent a lot of his childhood in the United States, both in California and Colorado, and has no hint of a Swedish accent. He recorded eight points and 20 penalty minutes with CC this year and really impressed at the world junior championships, where he won silver with Sweden and had five points and was plus-5 in seven games. He was tied for second among defensemen in scoring in the tourney.

Very, very smooth player and smooth skater. At 6-foot-4, he's got size, too (his dad is 6-foot-8). Huge fan of Jonas Brodin.

What's intriguing is he's really only been playing competitive hockey for a year-and-a-half. From the press release, Olofsson collected 23 points (2-21=23), 59 PIM and a plus-11 rating in 63 games with the Green Bay Gamblers in the United States Hockey League (USHL) in 2012-13. He was named to the USHL All-Rookie Team and played in the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.

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