22. LD Jamiesen Oleksiak – Northeastern (NCAA)
DOB: Dec. 21/92 | Shoots: L | Height: 6.07 | Weight: 240lbs
Midterm Rank: NR | League Rank: 1st NCAA
There are big defensemen and then there is Jamie Oleksiak. The 6’7” towering defenseman for the Northeastern Huskies has grown enormously over his last two seasons in regards to his on ice ability and has flown up draft boards more because of it.
While it would be hard to overlook such a big defenseman anytime he laces up the skates, Oleksiak largely has done just that for many years. Many previously believed all the hype surrounding the Buffalo, N.Y. native was regarding his size, but with his seamless transition from US juniors to college hockey those thoughts have seemed to vanish more and more as his freshman season went along.
Oleksiak really put himself on the radar of many scouts with his performance on the big stage at the annual Beanpot tournament at the TD Garden. In the semifinal game against Harvard, Oleksiak finished +2 and was crucial in Northeastern’s shutout victory. In front of another sellout crowd, Oleksiak tallied two assists against college power Boston College, but the team would go on to lose in overtime with Oleksiak on the bench for BC’s game winner.
Like most defenseman, Oleksiak prides himself in taking care of his team’s end first and foremost. He led the Northeastern squad that featured ten freshmen in plus/minus over 38 games with a +13. He has never really been known for his scoring touch as he had just two goals and 12 assists in two years at the USHL level, but he did show an increase in scoring pop this season with four goals and nine assists.
Despite being the tallest player in the Hockey East conference this season and possibly the tallest in all of college hockey, Oleksiak is not known for his overly physical play. He has stated publically that being a more physical force on a more consistent basis is something he really needs to focus on during his sophomore year and beyond. Surprisingly, Oleksiak is a very fluid skater at first glance and seems as if he has already grown into his 6’7” frame. One aspect of his skating that does need improvement is his lateral movement and quicker footwork.
It would be easy to compare Oleksiak’s skills to that of young Tyler Myers, another big defenseman, but it seems that Oleksiak’s game at this point in time fits more of the mold of the less offensively gifted Hal Gill. It would not be a surprise if he found more of a scoring touch the next few seasons and fit the mold of Myers but not at this point in his career.
Oleksiak is in a great place for growth and development at Northeastern as the team’s defensive core will remain young next season. Oleksiak also has the option of leaving the Huskies after one season and go the OHL route and play for the Saginaw Spirit who took him in the seventh round of the 2008 Priority Selection Draft. Either way, if the vertically gifted defenseman can continue to improve by leaps and bounds like he has in recent years there is no reason why he cannot be a star on the blue line for an NHL team down the road.
Pros: Size, stay-at-home ability
Cons: Physical play, lateral movements, quick feet
Skillset Comparison: Hal Gill