The Dallas Stars went with defense and size in Friday night’s first round of the NHL draft, selecting 6-7, 244 pound Jamieson Oleksiak from Northeastern with the 14th overall pick.
“I think the first thing that catches your attention is his size. He’s 6-7, 240 and there’s still room to grow in that frame,” said Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk. “He’s a kid that our guys have followed closely this year.”
Oleksiak, 18, said going to Dallas wasn’t a surprise. He had some good talks with the Stars prior to Friday night’s draft.
“I spoke with them a couple times before, sat down with them and had a good discussion,” Oleksiak said. “I think there is a lot of chemistry between me and the scouts and the management there. I think it’s a good fit for me. I am looking forward to it. It’s a real honor to be selected by the Stars.”
Nieuwendyk said there is a lot to like about the big defenseman, who has some skill to go along with the the size.
“He moves well for a big man. We’ve seen the impact over the years that big men can have on the game,” said Nieuwendyk. “It goes back with us with Derian Hatcher and the success that he had. He’s [Zdeno] Chara-type size. He skates well and can move the puck. The offense probably isn’t overwhelming, but he plays an all-around game. I think the important thing is he’s got that size, he skates well and is hard to play against.”
With his size, the comparisons to Chara are inevitable and the 18-year-old Oleksiak said while he tries to learn a lot from watching several NHL players, Chara is the guy he most tries to model his game after.
“He’s someone I look up to and really enjoy his style of play and try to model my game after,” Oleksiak said. “He’s had great success and that’s something I want to do for myself.”
As a freshman at Northeastern, Oleksiak registered 13 points (four goals, nine assists) and a team-high plus-13 rating in 38 games. He considers himself a defensive defensemen and a puck moving blue liner.
“I think I have the ability to make plays in all three zones and be a reliable player in any situation,” Oleksiak said. “I have a good shot from the point and I think I can use my size and stick to take away scoring opportunities and create some transition.”
Oleksiak is a native of Toronto whose father is from Buffalo, so he holds dual citizenship. He has represented the United States internationally, playing for the USA Under-18 team at 2009 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka.
Where Oleksiak plays next season is still a question mark. The young defenseman said whether he’ll return to Northeastern for another season or go another route in his development is a decision that will have to be made this summer.
“Northeastern has been phenomenal for me and they’ve really helped out my development. As for what’s happening next year, it’s all up in the air,” Oleksiak said. “My ultimate goal is to play professional hockey and it’s just a matter of continuing that development and going where it will get me to my goal and help me succeed the most. As of now, I haven’t committed to anything and we’ll have some decisions coming up.”
One option is the Ontario Hockey League, where the Saginaw Spirit hold his rights. But Nieuwendyk said he'll have talks with Oleksiak and his agent about whether the young defenseman stays at Northeastern or goes another route.
The addition of Oleksiak adds to a stable of good young prospects on the blue line for Dallas. Others include Philip Larsen, Brenden Dillon and two draft picks from last summer -- Patrik Nemeth and John Klingberg.
“The cupboard is starting to get stocked,” said Nieuwendyk. “And it got stocked in a big way tonight.”
Rounds 2-7 of the NHL Draft will be held Saturday starting at 10 a.m. The NHL Network-US will carry the draft live. The Stars have picks in the second (44th), fourth (105th), fifth (135th), sixth (165th) and seventh rounds (195th).