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Penguins Trade: Oleksiak Back to Dallas, News & Analysis

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Jamie Oleksiak: Photo by Michael Miller

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins quietly dealt hulking defenseman Jamie Oleksiak back to the Dallas Stars, Monday afternoon. Oleksiak was part of a crowded Penguins blue line which would have had nine healthy members upon the return of defenseman Justin Schultz, who is expected back sometime this month. Oleksiak was the Dallas first-round draft choice in 2011.

The Penguins received a fourth-round pick from Dallas, which is the same pick the Penguins gave up last season when they acquired Oleksiak from Dallas. The pick the Penguins will receive originally belonged to the Minnesota Wild.

Oleksiak, 26, signed a three-year deal this offseason worth $2.1 million per season. The 6-foot-7, 255-pound defenseman lost his spot in the lineup after he was concussed in a fight with Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson, on Dec. 19 and missed several weeks.

This season, Oleksiak had 11 points (4g, 7a) in 36 games. He also had 37 penalty minutes and was a plus-5.

Analysis

The Penguins are down to seven defensemen and have an open roster spot, despite neither Schultz nor Zach Aston-Reese being ready to return. Read the tea leaves as you will. This could be a matter of salary cap timing–clearing space–but with four games in six nights, depth could have been useful. This is either to set up a corresponding move or it’s a bad move by the Penguins.

Oleksiak for only a fourth-round pick also seems to be an undersell by Penguins GM Jim Rutherford. PHN analysis based on comparable deals over the past two years showed a third-round choice as the going rate for a defenseman who could play second pairing minutes.

Oleksiak was a top-four defenseman last season, playing beside Schultz. By most accounts, he resurrected his career which was fledgling in Dallas.

Oleksiak did not adapt as well to the right side in the Penguins system. Despite few, if any schematic differences to playing on his off-side, the transition to the right did not bolster his game. Finnish rookie defenseman Juuso Riikola has played well as the third pairing right side defender, which ultimately cost Oleksiak his spot.

The “big rig” brought a snarl to the Penguins blue line and his willingness to fight Tom Wilson earned a standing ovation from his teammates in the locker room after the game. Oleksiak will be a slight loss for the Penguins if nothing else transpires.

 

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Matt Luda
Matt Luda
2 years ago

Don’t like the trade unless Ferland is acquired before the deadline. Gave up too much size. Smaller, finesse teams are at a disadvantage in the playoffs, and the Pens are too much of that right now.

Eric
Eric
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Luda

Oleksiak sucks !

Matt Luda
Matt Luda
2 years ago
Reply to  Eric

If Oleksiak sucks, why trade him? Better to trade players when they don’t suck because they’re worth more. #Duh

He ranked second in hits and fifth in blocked shots despite being 14th in ice time. Never found out how good he could have been.

Zane Gearhart
Zane Gearhart (@steelcityhockey)
2 years ago

I’m sure the coaching staff catches 100s of thing I miss, but I would rather have Oleksiak over Maatta or JJ. Simply because his cap hit is smaller, he played well with schultz, and he can play either side. I guess at this point we know the D pairing going into the stretch

Eric
Eric
2 years ago

JJ isn’t going anywhere & Maatta is better than Oleksiak! Damning Olli with faint praise

Ricardo58
Ricardo58
2 years ago

So the Pens re-sign the Bug Rig to a new 3 year deal, sit him often as a healthy scratch often and then trade him for a 4th round pick. Head scratcher to me and I think the GM lost in this particular deal.

Alex
Alex
2 years ago

Head scratcher should have at least been a conditional 3/4. If the pens can get Ferland though and I’d say take a chance on Jeff Carter. Carter would be for Brass and King’s eat some salary for the Pens to get a RHC. Ferland-Crosby-Guentzel Simon-Malkin-Horny Pearson-Carter-Kessel ZAR-Cullen/Sheahan-Rust That’s great depth and I think Rust on a 4th line with a meshing ZAR and Cullen adds another dimension to that line where no team could role lines with the pens. Carter and Pearson have shown Chemistry and hopefully Kessel meshes with them and the pens I think although getting another aging… Read more »

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