Dallas' 2011 first round pick and giant defenseman Jamie Oleksiak has been re-signed by the NHL club to a one year deal. You can read the official release here. Mike Heika believes Oleksiak signed for $875,000:
I believe it is one-year at $875,000 and Oleksiak is arbitration eligible next summer. I think he wanted a chance to prove himself rather than take the two-year deals at $900,000 that Patrik Nemeth and Jyrki Jokipakka took.Mike Hieka
The 22-year-old blueliner has spent the majority of his professional career bouncing between the AHL and NHL level. He's reached the point where he will need to pass through waivers in order to be sent down to the minors again, which has created quite a logjam at the NHL level for the Dallas Stars.
The best thing for Oleksiak's development will be to play and not be the perpetual healthy scratch. He's reached a turning point in his career: can he be a consistent NHLer or has he reached his ceiling as a player that sits on the cusp between the AHL and NHL?
Oleksiak is still relatively young, and defensemen typically take longer to develop an NHL game. He has some tools that can't be taught, such as his massive size and reach. He doesn't have the highlight bone-crushing hits, but he still registers a fair amount of those. Many fans watch his game and feel he leaves you wanting a little bit 'more' on the physical side of the game.
The young defenseman isn't going to wow on the scoring sheet with goals, but he does play a solid two-way game. Because of his massive reach, he often can just pick the puck out of a passing lane or use his stick to obstruct the movement of the puck by opposing forwards. The question is whether he is ready to showcase those skills at the NHL level, and to be successful in harder minutes.
So far, he's been fairly sheltered and played easier minutes, something you would expect for a rookie blueliner. However, he will need to show progress against harder competition if he wants to stick in the Dallas lineup consistently above established guys such as Jordie Benn.
The one year contract seems to be a "show me" type deal. The Stars want to see what he can do. If he isn't able to consistently crack the lineup in the beginning of the season, a hard decision on whether to move Oleksiak will need to be made on whether it would be better to include him as part of a trade to upgrade the Dallas roster. He's not likely to make it through waivers, as he still has potential combined with his size that will be appealing to a lot of clubs, and Dallas shouldn't lose a blueliner for nothing if they can avoid it.
Training camp will be key, as Oleksiak will compete not only with guys already slated to make the Dallas roster, like Jyrki Jokipakka, but will also need to contend against the likes of Esa Lindell and Julius Honka that are making their case for NHL time.
Dallas will make space for someone they feel is ready to contribute at the NHL level. The question is whether that guy will be Oleksiak this season or not - and what to do with him if he doesn't crack the top six on defense.