The purpose of this post is to defend Jamie Oleksiak and "his style of play." I know there are a lot of people that are on my side of this but there are some people who are not. I see people complaining about Oleksiak and how he is not being physical enough. People constantly make comparisons to Zdeno Chara and although they might be worthwhile comparisons people must first take into account Chara's entire career and not just the past few seasons where he's been a well deserved Norris trophy candidate.
Zdeno Chara broke into the NHL as an Islander, yes an Islander. Big Z's role on the islanders was that of a stay at home defender who was tough to play against. he was traded to Ottawa were he started to round out his game but really didn't hit his peak until he was about 8 years into his NHL career. Jamie is only a handful of games into the show and has shown some great promise. He skates extremely well for someone his size, and he utilizes his skating very well making good decisions in his own zone.
While Chara is one of the top Defensemen in the league he gains most of his notoriety not from his defensive play but from his record setting slap shot and his short but brutal fight card. Both of those things can be attributed to his strength. Strength comes with time and while I feel like Jamie Oleksiak is just starting to grow into his body he is strong. During the Kings game thursday night there was a play behind the Stars net were a Kings players had control of the puck. Jamie was able to force the player off the puck with a simple shove of his forearm, maintain his skate positioning and get the puck out from behind the net. It looked like a very simple hockey play, yet if Robidas or Dillon had to make that play they would have had to throw their whole body into the opposing player thus loosing there footing and positioning.
While being big and strong has benefits as listed above it arguably comes with a downside. It can be real easy to be reckless. Below is a clip of Chara hitting Mikhail Grabovski twice in one game. The first hit shows Big Z taking Mikhail Grabovski into the boards. They go shoulder to shoulder but the size difference makes it less of a shoulder to shoulder and more of a head to elbow situation. Grabovski goes scarily into the boards and Chara really doesn't have to put much into the hit. The second hit in the video has Chara targeting Grabo and stapling him hard into the boards. Neither of these hits come close to tenacity you would see if someone like Brendan Dillon or Brooks Orpik were throwing these hits. The hits only look bad after they've been committed and Garbovski has trouble getting up and to the bench. heres the video
This is why players with size like Oleksiak do not play with the violence and tenacity of the other average sized players. Lastly look at Andy Sutton, a large stay at home defender who never had the speed or poise to play a tenacious game but was known for throwing huge and at times reckless hits. Sutton just about got himself suspended out of the league with his recklessness. So the next time you watch Jamie Oleksiak battling on the boards or thwarting a rush with a stick check remember to judge a player by his true skill and hockey sense rather than by how may bodies he leaves crumpled on the ice.