Seattle Kraken Roll Call is assessing every player who held a significant place in the fortunes of the 2022-23 Kraken season. We’ll be looking at the highs and lows they experienced during the last campaign, as well as what the future may hold for them in Seattle. Today we feature D-man Jamie Oleksiak.
Position: Left shot defenseman.
2022-’23 Kraken totals (GP-G-A-P): 75-9-16-25, 72 PIM
Contract Status: Three seasons remaining at $4.600-million per. He has a full no-trade clause for this season.
Seattle Kraken Season Synopsis
Here’s a few tidbits you might find surprising about Seattle Kraken defenseman Jamie Oleksiak.
Many are familiar with his nickname “Big Rig”, but did you realize just how big? Oleksiak skates in at 6-foot-7, 257-pounds. Height wise, that’s just two inches shorter than the tallest man to ever play the NHL game, Zdeno Chara, and one inch shorter than defenseman Tyler Myers who plays up the highway for the Canucks. Other than that, there’s not many players past or present in his ball park for all around bulk.
Secondly, did you realize Oleksiak scored more than twice as many goals as the analytics folks had expected for last season; notching a career high nine. The computers figured he’d score 3.8 goals last season, although in all my years I’ve still never seen 8/10ths of a goal. Kidding aside, the nine goals were pretty impressive, with Oleksiak often jumping into the play and on more than one occasion showing some pretty nifty “dangle”.
Finally, next summer we’ll realize once again that Oleksiak is the 2nd most popular member of his family in Canada and around the world. Among non-hockey fans it’s not even close. If, as expected, his 23-year-old sister Penny overcomes shoulder and knee injuries and swims at the Paris 2024 Winter Olympics, it’ll all be about li’l sis’.
She is Canada’s all-time leading Olympic medal winner with seven.
HIghs And Lows
Speaking of analytics, Oleksiak’s team possession numbers and the general threat of offense was limited, but not unexpected given his position, role and overall abilities. Big Rig tied with Will Borgen with the fewest shots on goal among Kraken D-men, 76, but had two game winning goals on the season. Sneakily chipping in is a bonus.
Oleksiak scored goals in back-to-back games in late October at Climate Pledge Arena against the Buffalo Sabres and then the Canucks, part of a four goal stretch over eight games. He had three multi-point games; a two-pointer against the Boston Bruins on February 23rd, another vs the Edmonton Oilers on March 18th, and then a three assist game in a blow-out against the Chicago Blackhawks on April 8th.
Where it matters most for Oleksiak is at the other end. He delivered 126 hits, blocked 115 shots and had an almost even giveaway to takeaway ratio. He’s presently a key member of the Kraken penalty kill.
Telltale in the playoffs; his highest time-on-ice in a non-overtime match came in the Game-7 win against the Colorado Avalanche in Round-1. He played 24:18, one of four postseason games in which he skated more than 23-minutes.
His one playoff goal was a beauty. It came in Game-3 of the opening round and cut into an Avalanche lead. Oleksiak stickhandled in front of the net and roofed a backhander over goalie Alexandar Georgiev.
He had two assists in the postseason.
Oleksiak missed three games due to suspension for a hit to the head of Capitals defenseman Alex Alexeyev on December 9th in Washington.
What the future holds
Seattle Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol has excellent balance to work with on the back-end, right down to the perfect lefty-righty mix. The pairs aren’t etched in stone and he can mix and match his 2nd and 3rd set as he sees fit. It’s likely more accurate to label those below Vince Dunn and Adam Larsson in the line-up as 2A and 2B.
One logical suggestion would be to put Oleksiak to Borgen’s left and newly acquired Brian Dumoulin next to his former Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup winning teammate Justin Schultz. All four can eat up minutes somewhat equally. Lefty prospect Ryker Evans could be waiting in the wings should injury occur, along with Jaycob Megna and righty Cale Fleury.
Dumoulin and Oleksiak are comfortable playing both sides of the ice as is Dunn.
“We’re fortunate we’ve got a lot of depth, guys that can step in and play minutes and different roles,” Oleksiak said just after the season. “Whenever you can have a lot of healthy bodies that’s huge, especially in playoffs as well.”
Five of the aforementioned D-men including Olekskiak are age 30 or older.
Enforcers don’t truly exist in the NHL anymore, but “Rig” offers up a fair amount of intimidation and will protect teammates if necessary. He dropped the mitts five times last season.
Recent Roll Calls:
— Seattle Kraken Roll Call: Matty Beniers
— Seattle Kraken Roll Call: Philipp Grubauer
— Seattle Kraken Roll Call: Andre Burakovsky