Drew Olson delivered sizzling slap shots and crunching body checks against opponents in a three-year varsity career for the Brainerd Warriors hockey team.
Those qualities attracted the attention of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who chose Olson in the fourth round in Saturday's NHL Entry Draft following a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers.
The 6-foot, 215-pound defenseman, the 118th overall selection, found out about his selection while playing in a Minnesota Hockey Camps game Saturday at Brainerd Area Civic Center. Getting drafted somewhat surprised him.
"I had talked to a few NHL teams," Olson said Monday. "I had no idea who I might be going to so I wasn't really expecting it at all."
Drew Olson was drafted in the fourth round.
Olson entered the draft ranked 102nd by the NHL's Central Scouting Service. Former Warriors head coach Ty Eigner, now associate head coach at Eden Prairie, wasn't surprised Olson was picked in the first four rounds.
"If you're in the top 100 of North American players, odds are you're going to get drafted somewhere," Eigner said. "Where he went is a great thing."
In the 2007-08 season, Olson scored 20 goals and had 16 assists for the Warriors. He was an All-Central Lakes Conference player and finalist for the Mr. Hockey Award. In his career he scored 27 goals and had 65 total points.
Unlike many of his peers, who left their senior year to play junior hockey, Olson stayed home to finish his high school career. About the only regret he had in high school was that Brainerd never advanced past the section semifinals.
"It was a little disappointing how it turned out," Olson said, "but I had a blast. I learned a lot during my high school career. Hopefully, I can use what I've been taught at the next level.
"I'm really glad I stayed for my senior year. I got to sit around and be with my friends."
Olson joins former Warriors like Tim Conboy, Chris Peluso and Carl Sneep as NHL draft picks in recent years.
"Any time you have a kid get drafted it's a pretty special thing," Eigner said. "Like the ones before him from Brainerd, Conboy, Peluso, Sneep, it's a great honor for Drew. Hopefully, he works as hard as he needs to work and gets the opportunity to play in the NHL once he's done in college.
"He was in Squirts when I got to Brainerd. He was a really good Squirt, then he was a really good Pee Wee, a really good Bantam after that, then a really good high school player."
Eigner credited the Brainerd Amateur Hockey Association and MHC for their roles in Olson's development.
"Minnesota Hockey Camps, they've really been good to him out there," Eigner said. "(Sneep's) group was the start of a group of kids that spend a significant amount of time out there. Drew was one of those kids."
Olson also credited Eigner, a former player at Ball State, for his part in his development.
"Since he's been my coach, since my sophomore year, he's always been behind me in everything I've ever done," Olson said. "He's always been a friend and a good coach. He helped me throughout my high school career."
Columbus has invited Olson to a rookie camp July 6-11. He will attend MHC the rest of the summer and play for the Omaha, Neb., Lancers of the United States Hockey League in the fall. In 2009-10, he plans to play for the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
After UMD, the NHL?
"Ever since I was young I always wanted to play in the NHL," Olson said. "It would be a dream come true."
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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