This is the first of a series of reports on some of the top prospects of the Dallas Stars. This one looks at defenseman Jamie Oleksiak, who played with both the Texas Stars and Dallas Stars last season.
Oleksiak, in his first full professional season, registered 33 points (6 goals, 27 assists) and a plus-19 rating in 59 games with Texas in 2012-13. He ranked seventh among rookie AHL defensemen in points and sixth in plus-minus rating. He picked up one assist in nine AHL Calder Cup Playoff games for Texas. Fans voted him to start for the Western Conference in the AHL All-Star Classic. He was also named the AHL’s top rookie for the month of January after tallying ten points (one goal, nine assists) and a plus-eleven rating in eleven games.
“Oleksiak took a big step last year,” said Stars assistant GM Les Jackson. “Some nights when you went to watch he was dominant. I think for his first year he made some great strides.”
Oleksiak, Dallas’ first round pick (14th overall) in 2011, is listed at 6-7, 254 pounds. It’s often said you can’t teach size, and Oleksiak uses his big frame and his long reach well on the defensive side of the game. He also skates well for a player his size and he’s a good puckhandler as well.
“He’s a highly skilled player and noticeable out there because of his size and his skill set,” said Texas Stars assistant coach Doug Lidster, who handles the teams defensemen “He’s come a long ways in learning the mental side of the game, the preparation and the marathon that a hockey season can really be. You have to compete on a nightly basis, week-by-week, month-by-month and he’s done a real good job.”
The 20-year-old Toronto native was called up to the NHL twice last season. He played 16 games, registered two assists and averaged 14:50 of ice time. He had some ups and downs, but overall there were valuable lessons.
“It was phenomenal for me. I was really grateful for the opportunity and I learned a lot. I know what it takes to get to that level. It’s just a matter of getting better, using my body and being a physical presence out there,” Oleksiak said. “Being a young guy I definitely think consistency is a major thing you face at that level, but I think that comes with gaining experience. There were highs and lows, and I think I learned a lot from it.”
Oleksiak will spend some time this summer working with training guru Gary Roberts. He should get a look during Dallas’ training camp, but he could probably use more seasoning in the AHL before he is ready to make the jump to the NHL.
“The time with Gary Roberts will be good for him. I think he is on track and making the right steps,” said Jackson. “He had some time with the big team, so he knows the level he needs to reach to be a good player. I think for a first year pro and projecting growth, if he can grow as much next year as he did last year then we’ll have somebody pretty special on our hands.”
Jamie Oleksiak 2012-13 Statistics