The Dallas Morning News relays that Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk recalled defenseman Jamie Oleksiak from the AHL, and said he expected the towering defenseman to make his NHL debut Friday against Phoenix and then join the team on a three-game road trip through Phoenix, Colorado and Edmonton.
“We’ll see what he can do, and then we’ll assess from there,” Nieuwendyk said.
Oleksiak is believed by most to be the team’s best prospect. Drafted 14th overall in 2011, he just turned 20 in December. Listed at 6-7, 254, his nickname is “The Big Rig.” He has a long stride and is a good skater. He also can be a physical presence. Comparisons are out there to people like Zdeno Chara and Tyler Myers because of the size alone, but Dallas wants to take its time with his development. Still, the Stars see Oleksiak as a huge part of their future, because he appears to be a defenseman who can eat minutes and play in several roles _ and that pretty much makes him a candidate to eventually fill the No. 1 role this team so desperately needs.
The team’s top four defensemen _ Stephane Robidas, Trevor Daley, Alex Goligoski and Philip Larsen _ are 6-0 or below, and 200 pounds or less. Rookies Brenden Dillon (6-3, 210) and Jordie Benn (6-1, 200) offer a little size, but Oleksiak has reach and presence that has been lacking.
“Clearly, he brings the size element that we don’t have right now, so that’s an obvious benefit,” Nieuwendyk said. “You look at Robidas and Daley, and Goligoski and Larsen, and it’s something that we could use some help on.”
Nieuwendyk said the team would carry eight defensemen for now, but that he expects Oleksiak to be in the lineup.
“It’s time to take a look at him,” Nieuwendyk said. “We’ve watched him play very well at the AHL level, so now it’s time to see what he can do at the NHL level.”