It’s official — the Seattle Kraken have selected Dallas Stars defenseman Jamie Oleksiak in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.
Originally drafted by the Stars 14th overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Oleksiak initially struggled to make much of an impact on the NHL level. He was eventually traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in December of 2017 for a conditional fourth round pick in 2019. That change of scenery proved to be just what Oleksiak needed — his play rapidly improved, and he turned his success into a three year, $6.4M contract extension the following offseason.
After being traded back to the Stars for the same exact draft pick in January of 2019, Oleksiak continued blossomed into a bona fide Top 4 defenseman. Becoming the regular partner of star defender Miro Heiskanen, Oleksiak’s absence was sorely missed in the 2019 playoffs, and was a key cog in their 2020 Stanley Cup run.
A pending UFA, Oleksiak was left exposed by the Stars in favor of protecting Heiskanen, Esa Lindell, and John Klingberg. Expectations were that Oleksiak would re-sign with Dallas after the expansion draft, but with few other options from Dallas, Seattle opted to select Oleksiak - if they were to sign him, that would count as their pick for the Stars in the expansion draft.
Reportedly, Oleksiak has agreed to terms with Seattle on a five year contract that would carry an average annual value of $4.6 million.
Jamie Oleksiak & SEA is five years, approx $4.6M— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 21, 2021
No doubt Seattle’s ability to offer a higher dollar contract than Dallas — especially after the Stars signed Heiskanen to an 8-year, $8.45M average annual value contract extension last week — played a large role in the defenseman’s decision.
With Oleksiak now officially gone, the Stars will have to look for replacement options for their blueline. There are several other free agents available — Ryan Suter, recently bought out by the Minnesota Wild, is a name to watch out for, as well as the Stars’ own UFA defensemen such as Sami Vatanen. The Stars could also elect to fill the spot from in-house, such as top prospect Thomas Harley. Such an option would allow the Stars to spend Oleksiak’s cap space on a forward in free agency.
Oleksiak’s time in Dallas was a roller coaster, but he will be surely missed. We here at Defending Big D wish him the best of luck in Seattle.