- Mark Stepneski, ESPNDallas.com
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The latest in a series on top prospects of the Dallas Stars looks at defenseman Jamie Oleksiak, who played in the Ontario Hockey League this past season and is expected to turn pro next season.
After playing at Northeastern University in 2010-11, Oleksiak decided to change his development path and signed on with the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League for the 2011-12 campaign. He played the first half of the season with the Spirit, registering 11 points (6 goals, 5 assists)in 31 games.
Just prior to the OHL trade deadline he was dealt to the Niagara IceDogs in exchange for a defenseman, two prospects and five draft picks as Niagara tried to beef up its lineup for a run at the OHL championship.
Oleksiak, who is listed at 6-7, 252 pounds, had 21 points (6 goals, 15 assists) and a plus-27 rating in 28 games for Niagara, which finished first in the Eastern Conference and tied for the second best record overall in the OHL.
“I’m so pleased we were able to get (Oleksiak),” Niagara coach and general manager Marty Williamson told the St. Catharines Standard. “It changes the dynamics of our team. I see guys who don’t even try to hit him because it’s useless. He’s so strong they try and do other things, which is ideal. I can’t say enough. To have another big body out there that is good in his own zone makes our forwards and our team better. He was a big pickup for us.”
Oleksiak had four assists and a plus-two rating in 20 playoff games as the IceDogs made it to the OHL finals, but lost to the London Knights in five games.
“Oleksiak had a real good season,” said Les Jackson, Dallas Stars Director of Player Personnel. “The move from college to junior was a good one. He went from the college schedule to the busy OHL schedule, and that was really good for Jamie. All the reports were really positive that he made some really good strides this year.”
Oleksiak, Dallas’ first round pick (14th overall) in 2011, also played for Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championship, picking up no points and a plus-two rating as the Canadians won a bronze medal at the tournament.
There’s more to Oleksiak than just his size. He’s also very mobile for a big man, and he can move the puck efficiently.
The Toronto native, who signed an entry-level contract with Dallas last October, is expected to play for the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League next season as he embarks on his professional career.
“He’s ready for the next step of pro,” said Jackson. “I suspect he’ll go into Texas and be a big minute player there, and you’ll see his game go to another level. I think for a young guy he has done extremely well.”
Background on Dallas Stars prospect Jamie Oleksiak.