In the last of these columns before the Draft, I'm visiting Jamie Oleksiak, he is an enormous defensive defenseman. He is 6'7 and weighs around 244 pounds! This is not a small man, although he isn't overly physical, he doesn't have an issue using his size to get what he wants. He is also a great skater, surprising given his size, and is defensively sound. If you remember, the MHH writers chose Jamie during the SBN Mock Draft. So for those who don't know, here is some info of the hulking blueliner.
First up the Scouting Report
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.
Bruins 2011 Draft Watch have this to say:
Important to avoid the lazy comparisons to Zdeno Chara or Tyler Myers because of size/mobility alone- those guys are more skilled with the puck and shooting skills than Oleksiak and he has a long way to go to reach that level. Oleksiak has upside, but may end up being more of a shutdown guy in the NHL. One thing he has going for him that most will never achieve no matter how well they are coached or how hard they work is that monstrous size. That should get him to the NHL
ESPN's Dallas Stars blog:
"Humongous blue-liner is smooth and poised with the puck, and shows quite good vision and passing skill. Massive rearguard with a colossal frame is a dependable shutdown defender who always thinks defence first. Great agility for a guy his size with a long, fluid stride. Moves the puck quickly and efficiently out of the zone. Does a nice job in 1-on-1 coverage both down low and on the rush. Uses his reach to great advantage on the pokecheck and to clog passing lanes. Competes physically, but will never be a huge banger." - Red Line Report 2011 Draft Guide
The Hockey Writers:
Oleksiak plays an all around solid defensive game. When watching him play you really don’t notice any glaring holes. Despite being a shutdown defenseman, he also has a good amount of offensive upside, which was displayed this year at Northeastern.
For a player of his size, Oleksiak has surprisingly good footwork and a big, strong first stride. He also has a strong outlet pass, and usually knows when to join the rush. Rarely does he get caught out of position, and if he does, he is usually able to make up for it with his size.
"I saw Chara play at that age and Oleksiak is way more developed and does possess better coordination than Chara had," Button told NHL.com. "A 6-foot-7 defenseman with the skill of Oleksiak doesn't come very often. There's a big development window in front of him. I could see three or four years down the road, NHL teams that passed on him might be saying 'We should have taken him.'"
Oleksiak is expected to have the shortest wait. The hulking defenseman, whose 6-8 dad is in the Nichols School Hall of Fame in football, basketball and track, recently completed his freshman year at Northeastern after two seasons in the United States Hockey League. Though the Toronto resident needs work on his lateral movement, his straightaway speed and puckhandling have teams looking hard at him.
And finally Hockey's Furture rounds it out.
Oleksiak is a defenseman that possesses a really nice blend of size, physicality and outstanding puck skills. While much has been said of his size and physical side, what is most impressive about Oleksiak is his superb agility and athleticism. He moves remarkably well for such a big man, skating with long, fluid strides. He also maintains very good balance on his skates as well.