And then there were eight. Today the Stars chose the path of least resistance by sending highly touted prospects Stephen Johns and Esa Lindell to Cedar Park, while keeping Jamie Oleksiak up with the big club.
Click here to see the full list of cuts.
As THW has previously mentioned, the Stars have eight NHL defensemen under contract. All eight would require waivers prior to a demotion. Therefore, not surprisingly, the Stars have elected to keep all eight defensemen. Unless they go down to seven defensemen or make a trade this will be your defense for the start of 2015-16.
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya – Jason Demers
Jyrki Jokipakka – Jordie Benn
Patrick Nemeth – Jamie Oleksiak
Jamie Oleksiak, Stephen Johns and Esa Lindell
Oleksiak, 22, was the Stars first round pick (14th overall) in 2011. In three seasons as a pro, the hulking 6’7 defenseman has displayed glimpses of promise, but hasn’t been able to sustain any consistency at the NHL level.
So far in preseason play, Oleksiak has a team worst minus 5 rating thru three games. The Stars are 1-3 in the preseason. They are 0-3 in games Olekiak played. Granted it’s a small sample size, but also follows a poor performance in the AHL playoffs at the end of last season.
Oleksiak may have helped himself by leading the Stars with eight hits in last night’s 4-2 loss to the Panthers. However, just 24 hours earlier, Johns and Lindell impressed local Stars’ fans in a 6-3 win over the defending Eastern Conference champion Tampa Bay Lightning at the American Airlines Center. It should be noted that Stamkos, Hedberg and others didn’t dress for the Bolts. Also, Ray Emery was between the pipes.
Lindell had a goal and assist, along with strong positional play at even strength and on special teams. At one point on the PK it seemed like Lindell would kill the penalty himself as the Lightning couldn’t get the puck from him.
What a snipe by Esa Lindell! PP goal ties the game at one. @dhulak89 in front, screened Emery, not sure if he tipped it in.
— Owen Newkirk (@OwenNewkirk) September 27, 2015
Meanwhile, Johns had a team high 4 shots on goal and was also very efficient in all three zones. Stars GM Jim Nill has referred to Stephen Johns as the key part of the Patrick Sharp trade. The Ellwood City, PA native plays a sound defensive game with a physical edge which the Stars lack. The Chicago Blackhawks selected Johns in the 2nd round in 2010 (60th overall). Johns was a minus 1 in two preseason games with 1 assist.
Lindell was Team Finland’s best defenseman at last year’s World Championships, and that was a Finland team that included Jyrki Jokipakka. Lindell, 21, was a third round pick of the Stars (74th overall) in 2012. Lindell was plus 2 in two preseason games to go along with 1 goal and 1 assist.
Was Keeping Jamie Oleksiak the Right Move?
THW asked Hockey Analyst Craig Button for his take on the Stars sticking with Oleksiak as opposed to risking him on waivers to keep Johns or Lindell?
“I think a team wants them to be as ready as possible for having them on the roster with the risk of losing players on waivers. Oleksiak has shown glimpses and with defensemen, who take a little more time, patience and caution prevail. That’s not to say that Johns and Lindell don’t show more promise but with the CBA and the rules with respect to waivers, clubs have to ascertain how they use them to their advantage.I think Olesiak would be picked up on waivers.”
Clearly, the Stars are showing patience with Oleksiak’s development. Still, the clock is certainly ticking. Oleksiak is on a one-year deal, while Johns and Lindell will be a restricted free-agents next season and the season after, respectively. Hopefully, Oleksiak will take the next step and reward the Stars for sticking with him.