With their pick in the 2021 Expansion Draft, the Seattle Kraken have selected defenseman Jamie Oleksiak from the Dallas Stars.
Jamie Oleksiak was drafted 14th overall by the Dallas Stars in the first round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
After being drafted, Oleksiak spent one year playing for multiple teams in the Ontario Hockey League before making his way to the United States. He followed that up with three seasons in the American Hockey League, playing for the Texas Stars. During that time, he also made appearances in the NHL, playing in 59 games with the Dallas Stars.
He struggled with some inconsistency though and found himself bouncing back and forth between the NHL and AHL in each season. Over the six seasons between 2012 and 2018, Oleksiak played in 171 AHL games and 140 NHL games. During that time, he played no more than 41 NHL games in a single season. That inconsistency led to the Stars trading him to the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2017-2018 season.
It was a brief stint in Pittsburgh, only lasting two seasons but his time with the Penguins was essential to his development. After being a minus player his entire career, he established a healthy plus-5 rating in both seasons, playing in 47 and 36 games. He also increased his hits, shots, and points, becoming a much more well-rounded player.
Midway through the 2017-2018 season, Dallas decided to give him a second chance, making nearly the same trade to return him as they did to send him to Pittsburgh. Since that move, he has been a completely different player. Paired mostly with Miro Heiskanen on defense, he has become a consistent defenseman and a staple to the Stars’ blue line.
Oleksiak is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. His previous contract was a three-year, $6,412,500 contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins, including $6,412,500 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $2,137,500.
What He Brings to Seattle
Oleksiak brings size, physical play, and some sneaky good hands. The resurgence in his career brought out a new side to him that allowed him to use his big 6-foot-7 frame to his advantage. Overall, the biggest additions to his game have been his hitting and confidence. After struggling to find this style early in his career, he developed it in Pittsburgh and has registered 153 and 158 hits respectively over the past two seasons. He is constantly delivering big hits and separating offensive players from the puck. His physicality shows in front of his own net as well as he clears a path for his goalies to see the puck and takes away most chances for tips or rebounds from the offensive player.
His confidence shows through as he plays in nearly every situation and even increased his average ice time by five minutes this past season. He is also not afraid to stand up for his teammates and is one of those players who will drop the gloves at a moment’s notice.
Other than his solid defensive play and hitting, he is guaranteed to have Kraken fans cheering when he delivers his surprising annual flashy goal, showing off his slick hands. Perhaps with Seattle, he will have the chance to provide more offensive production as he showed in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. If he could add a few more goals and points to his game, he will be an even bigger difference-maker in this league.
The most important thing about him though, is that he is the one true “Big Rig” in the league and should be referred to as such.
Notable Exposed Stars’ Players Not Selected
- Adam Mascherin
- Riley Damiani
- Ben Gleason
- Joel L’Esperance
- Ben Bishop
- Joel Hanley
- Blake Comeau
Sam Nestler is a Dallas Stars contributor for the ‘The Hockey Writers’. Growing up in New Jersey, Sam has been playing hockey since he was 7 years old. Developing a love for writing in college, Sam uses his hockey knowledge to create analyses and articles on every aspect of the game. Sam also hosts his own podcast on Spotify, the “Slapshot Sammy’ podcast, breaking down action across the NHL and NCAA. Check out the podcast here, and give his latest article a read!