Jamieson Oleksiak, D Northeastern Huskies (Hockey East)
Born: December 21, 1992 in Toronto, Ontario
Strengths:Huge- a manchild with boundless physical potential. Gigantic frame and long limbs; some strength and conditioning personnel think he will play in the NHL at 260-270 pounds when he reaches his physical peak; Oleksiak himself thinks he has another 1 or 2 inches left in him yet (his father is 6-8). Very good skater for such a big kid- has a long, powerful, fluid stride and surprisingly strong lateral agility and footwork. Coordination is the key with Oleksiak- he shed his awkwardness and gangly performance a year ago in the USHL to become a poised, confident mobile defenseman. Decent with the puck; handles it pretty well and can move it out of his zone with the effective breakout pass. Big, booming shot that he gets a lot of torque and power on. Defensive shutdown guy who excels with his positioning and long reach. Condor-like wingspan; if a player tries to beat him to the outside, then feel free to get up for a bathroom break- it will be awhile. Plays with an aggressiveness and edge- fought in the USHL before coming to NU and will likely be a guy who drops the gloves in the pro once he’s out of the NCAA. Told B2011DW at the NHL Scouting Combine that he intends to return to Northeastern for the 2011-12 hockey season. Has rapidly developed into a first-round draft prospect in a short time- one of the more remarkable stories of progression in the entire class.
Weaknesses: Hockey sense is the biggest question mark preventing him from being a slam-dunk top-10 pick. Struggles with decision-making, especially when under pressure and duress. May not have the instinctive feel for the game or on-ice vision necessary to be the sum of his very impressive parts. Shot, while powerful, could use tweaking with the mechanics: has a big windup that takes time to get off, doesn’t hide his release point all that well.
Jamie Oleksiak combine interview (Exclusive B2011DW video)
Style compares to: Zdeno Chara (if he develops offensive side of game), Hal Gill (if he becomes a shutdown guy only)
Draft prediction: With Oleksiak it’s going to come down to pick your flavor. If a team picking high enough sees Tyler Myers/Chara potential in him, then he’ll go around 10. If he’s seen as Gill (and there is no shame in that as a Stanley Cup champion with more than 1,000 NHL games), then Oleksiak will have to wait a bit longer. This kid is solid and safe- he’s going to play in the NHL because his size/strength/wingspan cannot be taught. The dilemma which exists in the minds of NHL teams contemplating him with an early pick is whether he possesses the real upside to justify it. Depending on who you talk to, he does. Benefited big-time (no pun intended) from being a late-'92, as he would have been a late-round pick in 2010 because he was so awkward and uncoordinated a year ago. Now that he's grown into his body and the coordination is there for him, he's earned himself those nice bonuses that come with being a top-30 selection.
Projection: Potential No. 1 or 2 two-way, defensive stalwart and PP point man if he reaches his ceiling. Solid No. 4 shutdown guy if he doesn’t. B2011DW wasn't huge on Oleksiak at the beginning of the year, but the improvement we saw from him between November and March (live viewings) was astounding. There's a lot to be said about a kid whose progression is as high as his has been over the last 12-24 months. He's deserving of a 1st-round selection, but just where he goes will be a reflection of where the NHL teams see his upside.
Background: Father, Richard, is a Buffalo native- attended the Nichols School there and is a Colgate University graduate. One of five children: Older brother, Jake, played hockey for Clarkson. Has one older sister and two younger sisters(both are accomplished athletes- one plays hockey/is a rower, the other a swimmmer). Born in Toronto, but dual-citizenship by virtue of his father’s status as American citizen. Skated with Tyler Seguin and Jeff Skinner in Toronto Nationals minor midget under head coach Rick Vaive. Played in the USHL for the Chicago Steel and Sioux Falls Stampede. Attended Crestwood Prep in North York, Ontario where he played 8-man rugby in addition to hockey. One of the final cuts for the U.S. National Junior (Under-20) Team for the 2011 World Jr. Championship in Buffalo.
If Oleksiak had his own soundtrack it would be: "Big Gun"- AC/DC
“I see myself as a player similar to Zdeno Chara. Obviously, I have similar size and I think I can move pretty well. I’m still working on my feet, but I’m finishing my checks and playing well defensively. I’m pretty good with the puck and can make offensive plays up the ice and on the power play.”- Jamie Oleksiak to B2011DW; June, 2011
“Is he Tyler Myers or is he Hal Gill? That’s the big question, right? There are nights when he looks like a Myers or Zdeno Chara and others when you wonder whether he’s going to be anything more than a solid, middle-pairing ‘D’ who will play, but isn’t going to bring much to the table. There’s some risk with this kid, but guys as big as he is and who skate as well don’t grow on trees. Someone will take a chance that he’s the next ‘Big Z’”- NHL scout to B2011DW; May, 2011
Oleksiak has skill set to match the giant size- NHL.com feature by Mike G. Morreale
Friend D.J. Powers from HockeysFuture.com weighs in on Oleksiak here.